MMA Book Review: Let’s Get It On! by “Big” John McCarthy

Iconic referee’s autobiographical journey through the UFC and MMA

There are only a handful of books that are must-reads if you’re mixed martial arts fan.

Jonathan Snowden’s two efforts — Total MMA and The MMA Encyclopedia (with Kendall Shields) — are on that list, as is Why I Fight? by BJ Penn. Got Fight? – the first offering from Forrest Griffin – ranks as well, but that one is more comedic than an inside look into the sport itself. Both of Sam Sheridan’s books — A Fighter’s Heart and The Fighter’s Mind — make my list as well, though they’re not strictly MMA based.

Let’s Get It On! The Making of MMA and its Ultimate Referee earns a place on that list as well.

Written with MMA journalist Loretta Hunt, the book tracks the life and career of “Big” John McCarthy, and gives you a behind the curtain look at the development and history of the UFC. McCarthy has been there from the beginning, and details his journey from the days of training in Torrance, California with the Gracies right up to this year.

Let’s Get It On! connects on many different levels.

For hardcore fans who know the already published history of the UFC, it offers insights and opinions from beyond the velvet rope; conversations with Rorion Gracie, Art Davie and Bob Meyrowitz, the men who first made the letters UFC popular. It also serves as a history lesson to those unfamiliar with the origin story of the organization that has now become synonymous with the sport it promotes.

Best of all, it delivers McCarthy — his story and his journey, including the ups the downs, and everything in between, without any shiny, candy coating. He’s honest and open in telling the history he helped create.

McCarthy is not one to search out the spotlight; he doesn’t crave public recognition for what he’s achieved in the sport or what he’s meant to its development and growth. With the release of this book, however, the man who first stepped into the Octagon at UFC 2 best prepare for a slew of interview requests and accolades.

The sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC would not be where they are today without McCarthy. While Let’s Get It On! isn’t a solicitation for recognition of his place in the history books, you can’t read it without understanding that we would not be where we are today without the efforts of its iconic leading man. McCarthy is on a short list of the most influential people in the history of this sport. He won’t ever say it himself, but the journey he details here says it for him.

No MMA bookshelf can be considered complete without a copy of Let’s Get It On!

Let’s Get It On! The Making of MMA and its Ultimate Referee by “Big” John McCarthy with Loretta Hunt is available through Medallion Press on September 1, 2011.