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McCarthy: Jon Jones thinks I hate him, but he would’ve lost his title if it wasn’t for me

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Former referee John McCarthy feels partly responsible for Jon Jones’ successful title defense at UFC 165.

One of the first moments Jon Jones looked like a mere human and less of an athletic specimen was at UFC 165 in 2013. Two years into his first reign as champion at the time, the 26-year-old “Bones” was entering his sixth title defense against Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones did end up with the unanimous decision win, but not without going through the wringer. He was battered and bloodied, and apparently in danger of losing his belt via doctor stoppage.

Former referee “Big John” McCarthy was the third man in the Octagon that night. And according to him, Jones would’ve left the arena without the belt if he didn’t step in.

“Jon Jones thinks I hate him,” McCarthy said (transcript by Middle Easy). “He actually at one point, before the Daniel Cormier fight (at UFC 200), but he came out in the media and said he didn’t want me doing his fight. It was because of the fight that he had with Vitor Belfort in Toronto, Canada, where you know, there was a kick thrown and stuff.

“But it’s OK that Jon feels like ‘Oh you know, he doesn’t like me.’ Is it that I didn’t like Jon? No! I really did like Jon Jones. And I’ll be flat out honest. Jon would have lost his world title if I wasn’t doing his fight at UFC 165, when he fought Alexander Gustafsson.

“There’s not another referee that would have told the doctor ‘No, I’m not stopping the fight’ and let him go out for the fifth round, and let that fight continue,” he continued. “Because referees are not going to put their career on the line for a fighter. They’re going to say ‘you want it stopped?’ and (they’re going to wave their hands), and the fight’s going to be over. Alexander Gustafsson is going to be the winner.”

The referee stated that the cut above Jones’ right eye was drawing major concerns from the cageside physician. McCarthy says he had to negotiate with the doctor and was ultimately successful in preventing the fight from being called.

“At the end of the fourth round the doctor came in and looked at me and he says ‘you know what I don’t like the way his eye’s looking, I think we should stop the fight,’” McCarthy recalled. “And I looked at it, and Jon had just won the fourth round. You know, came back because Alexander was winning it, Jon came back and won and almost finished Alexander in that fourth round. He was the champion and he had been fighting with the eye the way that it was for the entire fight, and never was he dabbing at it or anything.

“So I looked at (the doctor) and I said ‘He just won that last round I don’t think we need to stop this fight,’” McCarthy explained. “He goes ‘I don’t like it’. So I said ‘I’ll tell you what, we’re going to let the fight go on and if I see that cut change at all, I’ll stop the fight and bring you in’. Right. So he said ok and he goes out.

“To myself, I am thinking ‘I am never stopping this fight’ because I’m not going to take someone’s title based on a cut that… I know what bad cuts are and that wasn’t.

“I’m not saying I am smarter than the doctor but when it comes to injuries in fights I am smarter than the doctor,” McCarthy continued. “Especially when it comes to cuts. I know what’s a bad cut, I know what’s not, and that fight should have never been stopped for that cut, at that time.

“So that’s how much I hated Jon Jones. I basically put my butt on the line because it was the right thing to do.”

McCarthy was heavily critical towards Jones after the latter’s arrest and DWI charge in Albuquerque last March.