Bellator MMA announced today that longtime referee John McCarthy has agreed to join the company’s broadcast team as a color commentator.

McCarthy is expected to debut on the upcoming Bellator 192 show, which will air on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network on Jan. 20.

“With the addition of ‘Big’ John to our broadcast team, we have put together the premier group of MMA commentators ahead of our Jan. 20 debut on the Paramount Network,” Bellator president Scott Coker said. “With John and Chael providing analysis, you’re getting two people who have spent more time in the cage than they have spent with a headset on, and that will translate to a positive viewing experience for Bellator fans.”

McCarthy is also a former LAPD police officer and the founder of “C.O.M.M.A.N.D.,” a MMA certification program for referees and judges. He was also integral in drafting the unified MMA rules, which commissions use all over North America.

“I first want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given to work with the incredible team Bellator has assembled,” McCarthy said in the release.” It is always so hard to leave something you love, but I have always wanted to step away based on my terms rather than someone else’s. My goals are to work as hard as I can to meet the expectations everyone will have for me and to hopefully someday exceed them. I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than Scott Coker. Scott has always been a person I admire because of his honesty, loyalty and love for the martial arts. I want to thank everyone from Bellator and Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”

‘Big John’ replaces the recently departed announcer Jimmy Smith and joins Chael Sonnen (part-time), former UFC announcer Mike Goldberg and former PRIDE and WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo at the broadcast controls. Contrary to some initial reports, McCarthy has not retired from refereeing, but is simply focusing on this new Bellator opportunity.

@kenaiandrews