Opinion: Why Mike Goldberg is Out

By David Bixenspan Dec 29, 2016
Opinion: Why Mike Goldberg is Out Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

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I still vividly remember the first time that I saw Mike Goldberg.

After I first got a computer and internet access in the Summer of 1997, I stupidly dropped my subscriptions to the various pro wrestling industry newsletters, since I was going to get all my news online. I lost touch with mixed martial arts as a result, as a didn’t really seek out any primitive fighting forums or websites. Being in the heart of Cablevision’s service area in New York, I had long since been without access to MMA pay-per-view, so I would keep up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship via home video releases at Blockbuster. The problem with this was that the UFC’s original home video, with Trimark, had tapes coming out over a year after the event happened.

So I remember seeing that the Ultimate Japan card had arrived in the new release section, and seeing that for the first time in years, color commentator Jeff Blatnick was not joined by Bruce Beck. Instead, he was accompanied by some guy that looked kind of like Bruce Beck and sounded just like Bruce Beck but definitely wasn’t Bruce Beck. It was very obvious that the UFC, then still under Semaphore Entertainment Group’s ownership, was just trading in Bruce Beck for a newer model.

He actually did an admirable job all things considered, and he improved as time went on. But a few years into the post-TUF boom, something happened. He started making more and more mistakes. He took on a more idiosyncratic speech pattern in his announcing. By 2007, his voice was starting to go, to the point where there is a run of several cards where he sounds like a different human being for the guy we heard before or since. And boy, did his work ever devolve.

We all know the common jokes and references. He loves saying “teep.” Sometimes he thinks that half-guard is the Turk from amateur wrestling. He thought Travis Lutter was the Michael Jordan of submission grappling. But eventually, it stopped being funny. It’s amazing that he’s lasted this long, and it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that he’s gone not long after the company was sold.

That the UFC is reportedly talking to Jim Rome for the job as his eventual replacement makes it all more puzzling, though. At least Goldberg was a long-time play-by-play announcer. Rome is a broadcaster, but pairing him with Joe Rogan makes no sense in any way other than that it sounds like something Dana White would think is cool. Perhaps even more so considering all of the talk about how WME-IMG is not a fan of the more shallow, hyperbolic, bad imitation of pro wrestling style of the Goldberg/Rogan team in the first place. How a non-PBP announcer for being a wacky contentious personality fits into that better than, say, Jon Anik, or one of the non-UFC announcers that does actual play-by-play like Sean Wheelock or Mauro Ranallo, I have no idea. Perhaps Rome would be a third component in the booth, and Anik would be Goldie’s replacement?

If not, you have to feel bad for Anik in a way. He’s more than earned the right to be the lead voice of the UFC the last five years (and presumably, he will be for the time being until Rome or whoever starts). He works well with all of the UFC’s color commentators, including Rogan on the handful of occasions that they have worked together. He’s sharp, professional, knows the sport well, and is self-aware. He’s even had many more memorable calls than Goldberg in recent years. Some fans don’t like Anik because he doesn’t have a schlocky radio voice, but Goldberg hasn’t had one in almost a decade, either. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t seem like he’s in consideration of getting the nod.

Trying to figure out where this is also gets a little more difficult when you consider how Rogan fits in. He isn’t signed long term, and his new deal is only for pay-per-view events in the United States and Canada. How valuable is this new “dream team” of Rogan and presumably Rome if they’re not calling the most visible UFC cards on Fox? That’s especially important after this past weekend where, out of nowhere, the replay of UFC 206 did better than almost every live Fox special to date. UFC on Fox has a much higher ceiling than it’s seemed the last few years, and with the UFC looking for a gigantic rights fee increase when the TV contract is up, the network TV shows may become a lot more important. And who knows how long Rogan sticks around? Whatever little sense Rome makes as lead UFC announcer, that’s gone without Rogan as his sidekick.

Goldberg is gone, and the UFC product should be better for it. But it looks like it may not be.


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