Did anyone else feel that "Big" John McCarthy was over-stepping his role as referee during that sequence where Demetrious Johnson was throwing knees at John Dodson in the clinch? Dodson would alternate putting his hand on the ground to avoid getting a knee to the head and McCarthy would verbally call out whether Johnson could knee him to the head or not based on that.
Putting aside the legitimacy of being a grounded fighter by having a hand on the ground, did anyone else find those actions by McCarthy disturbing? While a referee should remind fighters to keep the action clean, for example telling the fighter not to hit the back of the head or to watch the head butts, in this instance McCarthy was providing real time feedback to Johnson on whether he should throw a knee to Dodson's head or body.
Shouldn't it be left up to Johnson to be aware of whether his opponent is grounded or not and where to throw his strikes? The analogy I'd use here is the 3 second violation in basketball. A referee doesn't tell you whether you have 1 second left to leave the lane, it's up to the offensive player to keep track of the time and his positioning, the referee's job is to call the violation if it occurs, there's no assistance provided to the player to avoid the violation.
In this case, McCarthy's actions put Johnson at the advantage and Dodson at the disadvantage even though McCarthy intended to "protect" Dodson. It was actually in Dodson's best interests to lure Johnson into kneeing him in the head so he could free himself from the clinch after the foul is called, plus Johnson could have had a point taken away for the infraction. The end result was Johnson knew when and where to throw his knees thanks to the referee. Also rather than Johnson having to reposition himself so he could see whether Dodson had a hand on the ground or not, he could keep his dominant position in the clinch as McCarthy was providing verbal instructions. Who says in-cage coaching doesn't exists? Where do you draw the line between a referee protecting one fighter while not assisting the other?