Ion Cutelaba, Kevin MacDonald. Photos: Peter Casey USA Today Sports

John McCarthy rips referee for controversial stoppage: “Absolutely horrendous”

"Quit trying to look cool, quit trying to be a fan, do your frickin’ job"

Veteran MMA referee “Big” John McCarthy laid into fellow ref Kevin MacDonald for his controversial stoppage of a high-profile light heavyweight bout this weekend. 

Even though this weekend’s UFC Norfolk is over, everything is far from sorted out following the event. Not only did the flyweight title fight end up leaving the division without a champion, but there was more controversy as well. In the exciting light heavyweight match up between Moldova’s Ion Cutelaba and Russian Magomed Ankalaev, the winner had a lot to gain. As is now known, however, the bout was stopped less than a minute in by referee Kevin MacDonald, who deemed Cutelaba as out of the fight. This was despite the fact that the Moldovan was on his feet, firing back shots at his opponent.

Now well-respected, veteran referee John McCarthy has chimed in on the controversial stoppage, and he isn’t giving his colleague a break.

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“First off, if you’re gonna do the jobs that are associated with the commission, then do the goddamn job,” McCarthy said in the Weighing In Podcast with Josh Thompson.

“If you’re gonna be an inspector and your job is to be in that fighter’s corner and make sure the fighter stays in the corner, then why are you watching and standing there like a fan, and allowing this fighter to walk over? You know, you can start to walk with him. If he stops halfway, you can stop with him no problem. But as soon as he crosses that midway point, your hands start to pull him away ‘hey don’t even think about it’, and you move him back if you’re the referee. What are you doing? You’re standing in there because you’re so cool?

“You’ve got to be paying attention when both fighters are in the cage, that cage is your responsibility. As soon as one steps in, once one as one steps out, you don’t have to worry about anything. But when they’re both in there, your attention is on the fighters. So, that whole bit when they come together. That could’ve ended horribly, it didn’t, but it did about 38 seconds later.

“If you’re gonna do a job, do the goddamn job. Quit trying to look cool, quit trying to be a fan, do your frickin’ job.”

Cutelaba has taken to social media to announce that he plans on appealing the official result. Many fans agree that the stoppage was questionable to say the least, but some feel that Cutelaba should have done a better job defending himself. Ankalaev has welcomed a rematch, to dispell any doubt about the result.

Do you agree with John McCarthy regarding the controversial stoppage?

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With roots in muay thai and as an avid combat sports fan, Sebastian Vendel-Martinez grew up while the MMA scene was blossoming in Sweden. He became part of the MMAnytt team in 2012 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent MMA reporters in Scandinavia. Currently he continues to work as a writer, reporter, video producer/editor and head editor for