Bellator have signed up legendary referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy are their new color commentator after the departure of Jimmy Smith.

McCarthy will work alongside Bellator’s play-by-play announcers Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo, and occasionally Chael Sonnen, who also serves as an analyst for the promotion in addition to fighting and will “remain a part of select Bellator broadcasts.”

McCarthy has an incredibly rich history in mixed martial arts, having attended the first ever UFC event back in 1993 and then began officiating for the then-fledling promotion at UFC 2.

That led to a long career refereeing for the UFC and other major promotions around the world, while he was also involved in the creation of the unified rules of MMA and has helped teach many other referees and judges over the years.

Now 55, McCarthy says he isn’t going to retire from refereeing, but the offer from Bellator came at an opportune time for him as he was already preparing to cut back on his officiating duties after having suffered a neck injury last year that required two surgeries and hampered his ability to do his job.

Now McCarthy intends to make his new Bellator role his primary focus, and due to the potential conflict of interests that creates there won’t be many opportunities to serve in a refereeing capacity now outside of charity events and for international promotions.

“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 a press 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 (Bellator president) 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.”

McCarthy’s first event in the broadcast booth will be at Bellator 192 on January 20th, but it won’t be the first time he has operated as a color commentator as he briefly served in that role for Affliction and The Fight Network back in 2007.