I finished this using the Kindle app on my laptop during my prep period.
27) Let's Get It On: The Making of MMA and It's Ultimate Referee by "Big" John McCarthy with Loretta Hunt
One of the big items on my bucket list is to serve in some capacity as either a judge or referee in MMA. It's not something that is just going to happen, I understand. And in the meantime I should probably start taking jiu-jitsu classes or something similar as a way to further my knowledge and understanding of the sport, but, similar to teaching being a way to further my passion for English, I like to think being a ref or a judge is a way for me to contribute to something about which I'm very passionate. At the moment, it's a financial and time commitment that I can't afford, but that's why it's a bucket list, right? John McCarthy is the first and most famous ref in MMA, and his book provides a ton of insight into how refs function inside and outside of the fight game.
As a history of MMA, the UFC and the evolution of the sport over the last 18 years, this book is top-notch. McCarthy has been around the sport since its inception and continues to be a part of it today, serving as the most recognizable ref in all of mixed martial arts. He literally details the infancy of the sport, and how UFC 1 originally served as an informercial for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Torrance. McCarthy had designs on fighting in the second event, but loyalty to Royce and Rorion Gracie prevented that since the whole competition was meant to showcase their various schools. Once that was established, Big John took on the role of referee and stayed there ever since despite being a well-versed practitioner of jiu-jitsu. Much like the fighters in the cage evolved over time, McCarthy orchestrated the evolution of his own role and even went on to draft the original rules of the cage.
But this memoir doesn't just cover his time in the Octagon; in fact, some of the most fascinating portions of the book deal with his high school days playing water polo and his time spent as a cop in the LAPD. The portion about Ron McCarthy, his father, a twice abandoned LAPD officer who helped form SWAT, provides enough craziness to fill his own book. The pre-UFC portions of the book also provide the kind of insight into McCarthy's world view that it becomes clear why he makes such a great ref. He has a very black-and-white outlook on the world and his police experience means that he knows how to make snap decisions and be willing to stick with them. McCarthy is fairly straight-laced and seemingly conservative because he comes off as almost homophobic in his discomfort with the idea of being mistaken for gay, but I don't sense malice in it, just discomfort.
On the Goodreads scale, I'd put this at four and a half stars but edged toward the full monty because this is a tremendous introduction for anyone is interested in the history of MMA, specifically the UFC. A lot of the credit should go to Loretta Hunt, too, as I feel she really improved between this biography and her contributions to Randy Couture's book.
Finally, the one weird thing that occurred in my reading experience had less to do with the book and more to do with reading it on a Kindle. Some of the names of chapters were really oddly misspelled, like using an R in place of an A, and it came off like it was a mistake in the digital transfer moreso than a printing error. I get the impression that the sidebars devoted to single events (e.g. UFC 74, Strikeforce: Destruction) appear on single pages, and they look awkward with the way they interrupt the narrative flow of the chapter.