Richest AthletesMMA
Net Worth:
$1 Million
Oct 12, 1962 (61 years old)
Los Angeles
6 ft 3 in (1.93 m)
Professional Wrestling Referee, Martial Arts Instructor, Actor, Police officer
United States of America
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What is John McCarthy's Net Worth?

John McCarthy is a former American MMA referee who has a net worth of $1 million. Big John McCarthy is best known as the first head referee for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He is currently a broadcaster for Bellator MMA and co-hosts the MMA and combat sports podcast "Weighing In" with Josh Thomson.

Early Life

John Michael McCarthy was born on October 12, 1962, in Los Angeles, California. McCarthy spent time at the Los Angeles Police Academy as a Tactical Self-Defense Instructor and retired around 2008 after spending some thirty years in that post.

John had been training with Rorion Gracie at the family's L.A. facility when he got involved with the newly created Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. He was the referee for UFC 2 in 1994 launching his career as a UFC ref.


John McCarthy would go on to referee hundreds of bouts in major MMA promotions and events. The UFC started out with very few rules, but with suggestions and feedback given by John, the sport became safer under these new adopted guidelines. McCarthy would often start matches by saying, "Let's get it on," and it became an iconic catchphrase associated with John and his refereeing.

He got the nickname "Big John" because of his imposing size and stature. At 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 260 pounds, McCarthy towered over the majority of the fighters he stood with in the ring. Reportedly, the nickname was first given to him by UFC co-founder and promoter Art Davie. McCarthy remembers being addressed as such after lifting Davie off of the ground and holding him in the air.

John McCarthy retired from UFC refereeing in 2018 for good after briefly retiring back in 2007 and moved on to rival organization Bellator where he serves as a commentator.


How much did Big John McCarthy earn in the ring as a ref? John discussed this very question at length in a 2015 podcast. On the podcast, McCarthy revealed that he could earn as little as $400 for a lower level fight. For a high profile fight, such as the bout between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo in December 2015, he earned a surprisingly-scant $1,900.

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Awards & Pop Culture

McCarthy won Referee of the Year three times in 2015, 2016, and 2017 at the World MMA Awards. He was also named part of the MMA Freak Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at the Wayback Machine.

McCathy appeared in an episode of Friends called "The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion." He served as the ref on the MTV 2 series "Bully Beatdown" and was featured in the award-winning mixed martial arts documentary "Fight Life." John also appeared in Season three, episode five of "Entourage" and at the end of the movie "Never Back Down 2: The Beat Down."

Personal Life

John McCarthy currently resides in Tennessee. He has two sons and a daughter, one of whom has been an MMA judge since 2013.

McCathy's autobiography "Let's Get It On – The Making of MMA and its Ultimate Referee " was published on September 1, 2011.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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