Ex-UFC referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy answers for controversial call made nearly a decade ago


Former UFC middleweight contender Tim Kennedy woke up on Wednesday and decided to break out a can of 10-year-old beef.

Kennedy, who was once a prominent name in the division after making a name for himself under the Strikeforce banner is still a little salty about a decade-old fight between himself and Yoel Romero.

After an impressive four-year stint in Strikeforce, Kennedy made his UFC debut in 2013 and promptly rattled off three-straight wins over Roger Gracie, Rafael Natal, and Michael Bisping. That streak led him to a big divisional matchup with Romero at UFC 178. Kennedy clearly lost the opening round, but he stormed back in the second, lighting up the ‘Soldier of God’ with a flurry of strikes.

In between the second and third rounds, there was some confusion that ultimately led to Romero being allowed to sit on his stool for longer than the traditional 60 seconds of allotted time between each round. With more time to recover, Romero came surging back in the third and finished Kennedy less than a minute into the final round.

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Tim Kennedy was left fuming and apparently, a decade later, he’s still not over it.

“Robbery anniversary and the end of my fight career,” Kennedy wrote on X. “Dear Nevada Athletic Commission. NAC 467.728 If a combatant fails or refuses to resume competing when the bell sounds … the referee shall award a decision of TKO.”

Former UFC Ref John McCarthy Offers Explanation to Tim Kennedy

Kennedy’s comments didn’t go unnoticed by legendary UFC referee, and the man who just happened to be overseeing Kennedy’s fight with Romero that night, ‘Big’ John McCarthy.

Responding to Kennedy’s comments on social media, McCarthy offered a lengthy explanation for what happened that evening and why Romero was allowed to continue after taking longer than the allowed time.

“Tim you are an amazing person and I truly wish the very best life has to offer both you and your family,” McCarthy wrote. “Perhaps I could of done something differently during your fight. I wish I had the forethought to envision this exact situation before it ever occurred and that way I may have handled it differently.

“But you are not stating facts about what occurred. Yoel was told to stay seated by the NSAC Inspector. The truth is the Cutman hired and paid for by the UFC did not re-enter the cage when summoned to do so and that is what held up the start of the 3rd round. It is not Yoel’s fault that this occurred and the Cutman is not part of Yoel’s official corner. Language barriers did not help as well.

It’s egregious to penalize a person when they are not at fault and that is why there were no point deductions nor DQ. Was it completely fair to you? No I don’t believe it was, but there are times when there is no perfect solution in the moment. I hope the very best for you in all that you do.”

Most UFC fans were quick to suggest that Yoel Romero had intentionally milked the clock to allow himself more time to recover, but with McCarthy offering up his explanation, do you see it differently now?

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