When it comes to the sport of mixed martial arts, many people don’t realize how long of a road it has been to get to where we are today. The first UFC event took place on November 12, 1993 and was deemed a huge success at the time. It also was vastly different from what the sport is today.
Let’s Get It On by Big John McCarthy details the entire journey of his involvement with the sport. But it does more than just that. It starts with his childhood and a focus on who he is and evolves into his decisions and actions through out his life.
Many fans would question why a book from the most widely recognized mixed martial arts referee needs to have such a massive focus on his life before he became a referee, but it is the lessons that he learned that forged what he was able to do for the sport.
It became apparent early on that McCarthy was destined to inspire, encourage, and educate others in whatever field he was going to go into. Working tirelessly as a member of the LAPD in several departments, McCarthy moved from department to department taking the most of what he learned from each into the next area.
And while many will find the stories of his time busting gang members or a first hand account of the LA riots intriguing, it is when he starts to detail the history of the UFC that he really shines.
Many people think of the Gracie family as the founders of the UFC. And that is a true statement. The UFC was founded to highlight the Gracie jiu jitsu and how it was the superior form of martial arts.
But it was McCarthy’s quest to further the sport that most fans do not realize. McCarthy was the major factor in determining what are now the “unified rules” of mixed martial arts. After each event he would realize that some things had to change for the betterment of the promotion.
He was there when the UFC held it’s first fight under a regulatory body back at UFC 15; a fact that many people don’t realize. He was working with glove manufactures to ensure that the gloves did what they were supposed to do and would make offer suggested changes as needed.
McCarthy with out a doubt is the largest influence on the sport as we know it today.
What was extremely interesting however was not the journey that the UFC took, rather how McCarthy’s journey with the UFC has shaped his beliefs. Consistently through out the book he mentions his wife or his kids and something he either did for them or missed of theirs.
It wasn’t until he retired from being a referee that he realized how much of what he had done or not done was for the things he loved. But it all came full circle when he stated, “But more than any affirmations I could get from any fighter, more than any rules I wrote or any historic bouts I got to officiate, the greatest accomplishment in my life is my family.”
Underneath the history of the UFC is a fantastic sub-story of how McCarthy has grown as a man. How he has realized what is important to him and what isn’t. He has seen some of the greatest fights in mixed martial arts history, he has had significant changes enacted, all while always thinking about his family.
There are few books that will take you on such a fantastic journey from start to finish, but this is one of them. Let’s Get It On by Big John McCarthy is with out a doubt one of the best books to ever capture the spirit and the mentality of the sport.