Monday, June 27, 2022

McCarthy Reveals He Used “Thumb In The Larynx” To Break Ortiz’s Choke On Sonnen

While there have yet to be any mentions of an actual formal fine, or any other professional repercussions as a result of his unwillingness to release his fight-finishing rear-naked choke on Chael Sonnen during their main event fight at this past Saturday’s Bellator 170 event, retired MMA legend Tito Ortiz hasn’t exactly gotten away with the incident scot-free.

“Big” John McCarthy, among the most recognizable and to this day the longest active referee in the sport of MMA, addressed the critical and controversial fight-ending moment that he was forced to physically insert himself into in order to effectively protect the health and safety of Sonnen

When asked by a fan during his official “#AskBJM” Twitter Q&A this past Tuesday about what, if anything, was said between he and Ortiz after he found himself in a position to have to very aggressively pull the UFC Hall Of Famer off of Sonnen when it became clear that he was purposely holding onto the choke despite his opponent’s clear-cut tap-out, the veteran referee noted that he did speak with Ortiz after the incident.

As Dana Becker included in his report on the topic here at on Tuesday soon after “Big John’s” Q&A concluded, Ortiz was immediately apologetic after the dust settled and his heightened emotions had passed.

“I talked with him after [the choke was finally released] and he apologized,” McCarthy said in response to the fan. It wasn’t, however, the only comment “Big” John made about that particular situation during his social media Q&A this week.

Earlier in the same chat, McCarthy responded to a different fan question on the same topic and while he may not have revealed what exactly was said between he and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” during their brief verbal interaction inside the cage immediately after the incident — outside of confirming that the MMA legend apologized for his actions — he did provide some specific details regarding the physical manner he decided to use to defuse the situation.

For his second question on the incident, McCarthy was asked “why he didn’t punish Ortiz for holding on [to the] choke way too long.” He replied by revealing that he did punish Ortiz in a sense, as he used a good-ole’ fashioned thumb to the throat to ensure he successfully broke up the situation before anything truly bad happened.

In response to the question regarding the seeming lack of consequences Ortiz dealt with as a result of the situation, McCarthy pointed to his throat-poke as a way of saying Ortiz had a version of consequences for his actions. In fact, he confidently speculated that the consequences Ortiz faced were of the painful variety.

“Because Chael was never in danger [and] Tito paid a price for holding on [too] long when I stuck my thumb into his Larynx,” said McCarthy in his written response to the second fan question.

It’s worth noting that at the official Bellator 170 post-fight press conference that immediately followed the event, when asked by a reporter specifically about the controversy surrounding the fight-ending rear-naked choke, Ortiz initially claimed that he didn’t feel Sonnen tapping. In fact, he actually directly referenced the aggressive manner in which “Big” John McCarthy broke the submission hold when Ortiz failed to react to his initial attempts to separate the two following Sonnen’s attempts to concede defeat. Ortiz joked about McCarthy “bashing his head off the mat” during the brief physicality he used to forcibly end the match. In subsequent immediate post-fight interviews about the extended choke, however, Ortiz seemingly boasted about holding onto the choke after the tap as a way of punishing Sonnen for some of the comments he made during the build-up to the fight.

Once talk began to spread like wildfire in the days that followed the event about it potentially being a “worked” or “fixed” fight, Ortiz directly pointed to some of the more physical moments — specifically holding onto the choke after securing the victory — as proof that not only was the fight not “fugazi” as many fans had concluded, but was one that featured some blatantly violent and bad-intentioned moments from both guys. The apparent contradiction in Ortiz’s comments about the incident have been viewed by many as a self-admission from Ortiz of purposeful intent and not ignorance as he originally claimed.

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