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Fixed fights in the UFC: A look inside the autobiography of “Big” John McCarthy – part 1

In the early days of the UFC, long before Dana White and the Fertitta brothers were running things, it was much like the wild west. But one man who has been there from the start is referee “Big” John McCarthy. He was the sheriff inside the Octagon in those early days and he is still in there today. The man has literally seen it all.

Because McCarthy’s autobiography “Let’s Get It On!” is so chock-full of information and MMA history, a normal book review just does not seem appropriate. Instead, over a few segments, ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) will highlight various excerpts from the book that will give a broad overview of the content within, while at the same time, hopefully, entertaining and enlightening those who wish to know more about the history of modern day mixed martial arts and one of its most influential figureheads.

As Real as It Gets?

It might be shocking to MMA and UFC fans to learn that the sport’s most identifiable and probably most respected referee believes there have been fixed fights inside the UFC Octagon .

On July 14, 1995, “Big” John refereed UFC 6 in Casper, Wyo. Something did not sit right with him with one of the fights:

“During the semifinal match between Oleg Taktarov and Anthony Macias, I believe I saw my first fixed fight in the UFC. Both fighters had the same manager, Buddy Albin, so I think it was decided backstage that Macias would throw the match so Oleg could advance to the finals and face Tank [Abbott] as fresh as possible. The fight went a little too smoothly for my tastes when Macias shot in and nearly fell into the guillotine choke, which he tapped out to in twelve seconds.” (from page 194)

Actually, Taktarov’s official time for the submission win is listed at nine seconds. And if the goal was for Taktarov to be fresh, it must have worked, as he went on to win in the finals, ultimately submitting Tank Abbott via rear-naked choke at the 17:45 mark.

Would Don Frye really do that?

On Dec. 7, 1996 at Ultimate Ultimate 96, McCarthy believes it happened again:

“Unfortunately, this night was the second time I felt I  was refereeing a fixed bout. In the semifinals, Don Frye and Mark Hall met in a rematch of their UFC 10 bout. In their first encounter Frye had beaten the piss out of Hall, who’d refused to give up. Here, though, Frye ankle-locked Hall to advance to the finals without breaking a sweat.”

“The fight struck me as odd. Frye, a bread-and-butter wrestler and swing-for-the-fences puncher, had never won a fight by leg lock, and Hall practically fell into the submission. I also knew both fighters were managed by the same guy.” (from page 215) 

McCarthy said he told Bob Meyrowitz, the UFC owner at the time, that the fight was fake but Meyrowitz asked how he could think that.

McCarthy goes on to say rumors that Hall had thrown the fight circulated for months until Hall finally came out and admitted it and said Frye had offered to pay him. Hall said he came forward only after Frye failed to pay up. Frye denied the accusations.

John McCarthy’s autobiography, “Let’s Get It On!” (co-authored with Loretta Hunt) is published by Medallion Press and can be ordered online at Amazon.com.

  • http://twitter.com/KelvinHunt Kelvin Hunt

    Interesting stuff…

  • Cliff Speed

    I’m sure there have been some fixed fights. There definitely were some in Pride, so why not UFC? I will probably catch flak for this, but I thought the Lesnar-Carwin match seemed a little fishy. I’ve seen people getting pounded on less than Lesnar was both before and after that fight and the matches got stopped. I thought it was odd for the ref to let the clock run out like that.

  • http://twitter.com/KelvinHunt Kelvin Hunt

    Clock didn’t run out…Lesnar got back to his feet with like a minute left in the first round…pinned Carwin against the cage…Lesnar was taking a beating for sure…but he was moving and trying to defend….now..if he had turtled up and took all those shots…then I think you’d be on to something…

  • edub

    Marvin Eastman vs. Travis Lutter – From the moment I saw the fight, I thought it was fixed and that was almost 7 years ago when I watched it. Neither did anything in the first round, and Lutter a bread and butter BJJ guy to say the least didn’t shoot once. Eastman maybe threw one leg kick. In the second the same happend for the first 30 seconds, then Lutter KOd Eastman with one shot. The punch to this day still didn’t land IMO, and it defintitely didn’t hit him flush at all. On top of that Eastman was a striker, and Lutter had never one a fight standing up before that. The odds of a second round KO for Lutter would have been huge.

  • http://www.prommanow.com PRO MMA

    I think Ken Shamrock has been involved in some shady things. Seems like I remember him falling down to a “phantom punch” at least once that I recall. But when he had not won a fight in almost five years, he put on his own show at War Gods in Fresno in 2009 and fought Ross Clifton. The fight looked so ridiculous and Shamrock ended up winning via armbar at the 1:00 mark of round one. As soon as I saw it I called foul. I’m sure there’s an article on here about it somewhere. And to make matters worse he tested positive for steroids after the fight. — Clifton fought one more fight after this a couple months later, lost, then passed away in Sept. 2009, just seven months after his fight with Shamrock. — oh and what made the win even more suspicious was, out of Shamrocks 23 submission wins in his career, it was his ONLY win via armbar.

  • http://twitter.com/KelvinHunt Kelvin Hunt

    Yea…Shamrock definitely ‘fell’ against Rich Franklin before he could even get the punch off…so was that fight a ‘work’ or was it fixed? I swear son…I’d have to get paid a TON of money to get hit in the head like that….lol

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