Sort-of review: McCarthy/Hunt, “Let’s Get It On”

I should say at the outset that I’ve known Loretta Hunt, who wrote Let’s Get It On with “Big” John McCarthy, for a few years now. I don’t think you can know her without being impressed by her ability to maintain her professionalism and passion for the sport in what can only be described as a uniquely hostile work environment. She and I have had terrific conversations, funny and productive, about MMA, its history and the publishing world.

So I’m a little biased on this book, but I have another reason for giving this disclaimer. I’ve known for a while that Loretta was working on this book, and I probably wasn’t as enthusiastic as I should’ve been. He’s one of the sport’s enduring figures, yes, but would people really put a book by a referee at the top of their reading lists?

I mention those misgivings because, of course, I was dead wrong. This is an essential book for anyone who wants to know how the UFC made the transition from outlaw organization to billion-dollar phenomenon.

In retrospect, I clearly should’ve known better. McCarthy has had a unique view of the sport’s growth, being the third man in the cage in hundreds of important bouts from UFC 2 to the present. Yet his role is even larger than that. He didn’t just set the standard for how to be a referee — he developed the rules and sold them to skeptical commissioners and promoters. He saw the promise of the UFC as a legitimate sport and stuck with it.

And in the book, he’s remarkably candid. He speaks freely about other people’s mistakes, but he also takes responsibility for falling out with current UFC management.

The first part of the book is about his police career. Here, again, he has a unique perspective, being in the middle of three generations of law enforcement. Not everyone would agree with his take on a few issues facing the LAPD over the years, but it’s rare to have such a well-expressed view from someone in the line of duty.

His police career continued to overlap with his MMA career, and they’re woven together well. The book is an easy and engaging read. But at its core, it’s far more than an autobiography. It’s essential history.

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