Testimonials - Experienced MMA Officials Share Their COMMAND Experience

Dr. David GeorgeTaking a course under John McCarthy is like opening a window to the very origins of MMA.  The product that is delivered through this course far exceeds the bullet point descriptions and defined boundaries of the curriculum.  As an instructor, John not only shares his absolute knowledge of the sport from the perspective of MMA’s most experienced referee but also the traits that make him easy to admire as a person: integrity, professionalism, honesty and an unparalleled passion for what he does.    All of it is unavoidably infectious. I attended the COMMAND course to learn to become a good MMA referee.  I gained so much more than I expected. Certainly, the course contains a comprehensive review of the rules and mechanics of the job but to say that that this is all that it offers is like saying that the little pictures on your desktop fully represent the range of inner workings of your computer.  As John instructs you on the laws of the game, he is also sharing the perspectives of someone who was there as the laws were being created.  This unique perspective means that you not only learn the black and white of each rule but also the intention and history behind it.  Not only does this aid in retention but also in the real world application of the rules when the black and white of the printed rule gives way to the fast-paced, unpredictability of the real world fight game. 

This dynamic course takes place in a variety of different environments.  In the classroom, the lecture is very lively and interesting, covering hours of great footage from the history books of MMA, bringing each concept to life.  In the hands-on, technique section, the lecture moves to the mat where you are taken through the fullest range of MMA techniques.  Despite having been a martial arts participant for a great deal of my life, I found myself taking out pen and paper on more than a few occasions.  Finally, the ring and cage becomes the classroom where the student is instructed and grilled in the most precise, technical aspects of refereeing: procedure, placement, movement, command, decision-making and more (complete with live action delivered by professional MMA fighters).   

During my course, I was fortunate enough to have more than just one instructor.  I also had the privilege of being instructed by Jerin Valel.  Jerin is a natural, gifted teacher.  As a former pro-fighter and professional referee and Judge, Jerin also draws on a great bank of experience, which he shares in a clear and patient way.  If you happen to have the opportunity to receive instruction by Jerin, I strongly recommend that you don’t pass it up.   

Since taking the COMMAND course, I can confidently say that I am not only a better referee but I also enjoy and appreciate the MMA game so much more.  Each time I step into the cage or ring, I say a little mental “Thank you!” to John, Jerin and the COMMAND team.  I couldn’t recommend this course any higher.   I am indebted to both guys – Thank you so much!

Dr. David George
Phoenix, AZ

Referee Frank GericI would just like to thank you for the wonderful job you did with the C.O.M.M.A.N.D. MMA Referee Certification Class last month. I cannot speak highly enough about the class and how well it was conducted. I feel very strongly that your class provided me with both the skills and the confidence needed to be successful as a Mixed Martial Arts official. This feeling was reinforced when, the first fight that I refereed after attending your class, I was faced with situations identical to those present in your final exam. This is just a small example of how pertinent and relevant the course’s subject matter is to the task of refereeing. It was very apparent to me while attending your course that John’s experience and knowledge of MMA are only rivaled by his passion for the safety of its participants. John’s excitement and infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter covered made the class a truly wonderful experience. I would also like to note that your warm and friendly welcome to your beautifully appointed facility also served to make me, and others in my class, feel completely at home. Thank you for a wonderful experience, and thank you for all that you are doing for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
Frank T. Geric


Pat Reid ECSC"As Executive Director of the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission (ECSC), the most active combative sport commission in Canada, the status of [Pat Reid, Executive Director, Edmonton Combative Sports Commission] mma referee and judge expertise is the main issue to be addressed by governing comissions in this rapidly growing global sport.  The ABC recognizes a handful of mma referee and judge courses and course instructors.  A number of our most experienced officials have taken most of those courses.  They agree that Big John McCarthy's courses contain the most complete knowledge base required by mma referees and judges respectively. I have sat through both the COMMAND referee and COMMAND judge courses and agree with our officials.  Our commission mandate is to use only COMMAND certified referees and judges for mma events in Edmonton, trained either by Big John himself or by Jerin Valel (Canada) who is committed to the sport and has great delivery as a instructor, and is the only instructor that Big John has qualified to teach his COMMAND courses throughout the world.."

Pat Reid
Executive Director, Edmonton Combative Sports Commission

Referee John BraakAs an experienced official I am always seeking ways to refine & enhance my performance as a referee. This course offered me that opportunity. There was a lot of information covered, some of which I was familiar with and a lot of new things. The course focused primarily on the ground and submissions part of the sport, areas which I was somewhat weak on. That was excellent for me. I learned a lot and I also realized that there is much more to learn. As the sport and athletes evolve I feel it critical that the officials evolve with it. Training with experienced and quality officials at Mr. McCarthy's level is an excellent way to achieve competency and valuable insight and the manner that the instruction was given very professional and in-depth. John has a unique ability to deliver the information in a comprehensive and interesting manner, which makes it easier to learn. For the inexperienced person wishing to see if they want to explore officiating, the course will be very difficult (as it should be, and was even for me) but none the less also beneficial. The exposure to various aspects will help them to determine if they wish to continue pursuing it or not. Lives of the athletes are in the hands of the referees and as such trained and competent people are essential for safety. Keeping the courses stringent requirements and even enhancing them will help to ensure those that pass will be able to handle the tasks of an MMA referee. As this course is still fairly new I see constant refinement and additions/deletions necessary. The high standards should remain. In closing I can highly recommend the course to both new and experienced referees. That being said I personally will look forward to further courses offered by C.O.M.M.A.N.D. and by any other qualified persons or organizations in an ongoing effort to enhance my knowledge and experience.

John Braak

This is the perfect training course for anyone who is serious about pursuing a career as a Mixed Martial Arts referee - and a great experience for any fan of the sport. There's a reason that Big John is considered the best in the business, and he covers everything that you need to know with enough stories and personal insights to keep class sessions fun and entertaining. The staff at C.O.M.M.A.N.D. is top notch and tremendously helpful with the practical training. Getting that kind of experience on the mat and in the cage is one of the things really sets the C.O.M.M.A.N.D.'s training course apart.

Erik Peterson

Referee Todd Anderson

Baptism Under Fire

There I was fresh out of C.O.M.M.A.N.D. with my shiny new Referee Cerificate and words of wisdom and support from Big John himself.

A couple weeks later the phone rings and I'm asked to help out another C.O.M.M.A.N.D. brother at an event in Indiana.Without hesitation I jump in the car and spend 5 five hours driving with and getting to know one Frank Geric; seasoned ref and judge. Next thing I know I am 8 hours from home; in a another country to boot, thinking "How hard could it be..a couple fights in a tiny "mom & pop show"...

Frank subsequently swings open the Hall doors of the Belterra Casino and there it stands...2500 fans, HDNET camera's a blazing, inferno hot lights and the promoter tells me I have to wear a "mike" so everyone can hear what needs to be said.11 fights later the fans are not booing, the fighters are actually listening to me and best of all Frank is still giving the thumbs up, so I know I'm not walking home. It was a crazy whirlwind trip for my first MMA event and I would not have traded it or the company I was with for anything.

Its now been over 35 fights and going strong.None of it would have have occurred if I was not confident in the quality and extremely high level of training John McCarthy demands from his students during a C.O.M.M.A.N.D. course. The blindly accepted brotherhood from a fellow C.O.M.M.A.N.D. student soley based on the credentials of a certification is something to be cherished. Now certified as a Judge as well, I Proudly brag of my training and look forward to seeing the C.O.M.M.A.N.D. ranks grow. C.O.M.M.A.N.D. certified Referees and Judges...the Gold Standard of the industry.

Todd Anderson

Referee Jeff Kemp with Instructor John McCarthyI would like to say thank you to Big John McCarthy and his entire C.O.M.M.A.N.D. staff for the amazing experience during the C.O.M.M.A.N.D. referee training course.  This course gave me the tools and the confidence to be successful as a mixed martial arts official.  I highly recommend this course to any mixed martial arts official who wants to be pushed to the next level and who is serious about the sport.  This course sets the standard by which all others should be judged.  John's experience in the cage and passion for the sport is a great asset.  He is a true icon of the sport and a great inspiration.  There is also a great support structure of C.O.M.M.A.N.D. referees all across North America that are willing and able to help guide you before, during, and after the course.  Again, I say thank you for helping me to evolve with the sport and to develop as a mixed matrial arts official and thank you for what you do for the sport!  Keep up the good work.
 Jeff Kemp
Gainesville, GA