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Mike Goldberg: 98% of the fans who listen to me on a regular basis appreciate my professionalism

By Zach Arnold | August 31, 2011

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If your name is Mike Goldberg, working for UFC means you watch a ton of fights, get paid to call the action, and travel all over the world. No, I mean, you really travel all over the globe at a dizzying pace.

What happens when you get hurt or sick and you feel the pressure to show up for what you view to be your dream job? Ask Mike Goldberg, who was interviewed by Bruce Buffer yesterday and explained some recently painful scenarios he’s had to work under while doing his job for Zuffa.

Mr. Buffer recently underwent ACL surgery. The horror, especially when it comes to doing The Buffer 180 degree turn for fighter introductions. Here’s hoping his recovery & rehab goes smoothly. Mike Goldberg recently underwent surgery as well that was just as painful — a ‘full disc replacement’ surgery for his back. He stated that the surgery was done two weeks before the UFC Rio event and that he had to make it through a 16-hour plane flight to Brazil to work the event with Kenny Florian. As Mike put it in regards to the Rio after show party, he had two Vicodins with some drinks and ‘was a puddle of mud’ that needed to be taken away by his wife.

No one takes more heat in the MMA announcing world for their job performance like Mike Goldberg does.

“I just always prided myself on being the best that I can be. I don’t compare myself with others, I don’t compare myself to be better than others or not as good as others or do this better. What I want to do is challenge myself to be the best in the world and that’s what I’ve always tried to do. What we do is very subjective, you know, it’s ketchup and mustard. Somebody wants ketchup on their burger, somebody wants mustard on their burger, and for some people you put mustard on a burger and they won’t eat it and I’m fine with that, that’s always going to exist in our line of business. That said, though, I mean, I do everything I can to be prepared, I do everything I can to be perfect every night and, you know, it makes me chuckles, sometimes, you know, the way the fans are. But, for the most part, 98% of the people who listen to what you and I do on a very regular basis appreciate our professionalism, appreciate our energy, our enthusiasm, and like our work and feel like we’re an integral part of what UFC is all about, that we make it even more special than the fighters do themselves.

“Everybody’s replaceable, you know, the sport is what it is really all about and I know that and that’s why I believe that I’ve been able to keep my edge for so many years is that I realize that, you know, as much success as we’ve all had that we’re all very replaceable and we’re all very blessed to be in the position that we are. So, I just want to keep on the ride, do some shows on Fox, continue to go to great places. I had a full disc replacement two weeks ago today and six days after disc replacement I had my pain killers and my seat on the long flight and I was in a lot of pain but there’s no way I would miss a UFC, especially not a historic event like we’ve just experienced in Brazil.”

Mr. Goldberg says that he does read the criticism on the message boards about his performance and cares about what others say about the job he does on the Zuffa telecasts.

“There’ve been things that people have said over the years, you know, I actually take everything to heart. I also realize the source of much of it but there’s certain things that somebody might have blogged this or that and I kind of went, you know, I didn’t really realize I was doing that. I’ll go back and I’ll listen to the tape and I’ll go, that was actually a good suggestion or great catch, I’d forgot about that Brazilian fighter who had won a title and stuff and I think people forget that, you know, we’re human beings.

“I mean, everybody wanted to get all over me when you look at the tape of Sean Sherk & Evan Dunham, it looks like Sherk tapped on the way down, it absolutely 100% looks like he tapped and I say ‘it’s all over!’ prematurely one time in 2,000 fights and everybody wants to have a big hey day about it but, yet, when I was very patient and watched very closely Herb Dean not stopping the fight with Rousimar Pahlares, not saying ‘it’s all over,’ nobody wants to say anything. And, again, I’m not the kind of guy who lives by the edge of that sword, if you did we would have found a mountain to jump off of a long time ago, you’d have to keep all sharp objects away from us. It is what it is but I greatly appreciate it but my point more so is a positive one is that I appreciate the feedback and I appreciate when people catch things that can help me be better because, at the end of the day, we’re servants for the fans and we want to be able to keep the masses happy. You’re never going to keep everybody happy but you want to keep as many people happy and as entertained as possible and I take a lot of pride in that (whether) it’s the UFC, if it’s the NFL, the NHL, college football studio on Fox, whatever it is, it’s kind of always been my philosophy.

As for working on the job under illness and pain, he said that having disc replacement surgery isn’t the only time he’s had to work while not having full mobility.

“I’ve been worse before. I mean, I had biceps tendon surgery on a Wednesday and called BJ Penn/Sean Sherk years ago with a cast from my wrist all the way up to my shoulder on a Saturday and I was really hurting during that show and we had a tailor actually take the inside of my suit out and then put like elastic in it so that my suit coat could go over so on the air you couldn’t really tell other than it looked like I was flexing my arm the whole time, but when I was talking to Joe (Rogan) you couldn’t event tell but I had a full cast four days after biceps tendon surgery, so it shows what it’s about and I wouldn’t miss one… you’d have to keep me down pretty good if I’m ever going to miss (a UFC).”

Being a witness to all of Anderson Silva’s history-making UFC fight performances

“One of the greatest fighters, not only Mixed Martial Artists, but one of the greatest fighters period. Muhammad Ali and you know Joe Frazier and you go back to Sugar Ray Robinson and go back to the era of the greatest wrestlers & Olympians who scored gold medals and world class kick boxers and K-1 champions and, you know, great martial artists like Bruce Lee who competed in a different fashion but still we always looked at Bruce Lee as The Master and the true first ever king of Mixed Martial Arts because that’s really what Bruce Lee was about was about using everything you had in an advantage to defeat your opponent, to win the competition, to win the fight.

“[Anderson’s] magical. He’s magical. I think those couple of performances that were uninspiring, I wouldn’t even say sub par, but they were just uninspiring. Some of that I blame on this opponents, some of that he was just bored, but man has he silenced the critics since then with the kick to the face of Vitor to just toying with Yushin (Okami), to even allowing Yushin to get him up against the cage a little bit and grind on him and once he threw that one knee and he caught him, Yushin didn’t even want to do that any more and you could almost see and Yushin Okami, he’s a great gladiator, he’s a wonderful competitor, but yet after he got tagged a couple of times he didn’t want to be there any more. I mean, you could see in his eyes just kind of like, ‘oh, man, really? this is how it’s going to go?’ Because you feel as an opponent you truly feel helpless, you feel like you’re in a war with not one single weapon when you go against Anderson. He is something very, very, very special and we’re very blessed to be part of this.

“I mean, you and I have called every single one of his fights, from the knockout of Leben to the finish of Yushin Okami, 14 straight, and we’ve called every single one of them. What a magical time and what a magical fighter who truly is on a different level. I mean, he really is, he’s out of The Matrix and, man, it’s fun to watch. … I still, in the back of mind, think Vitor’s a threat if the fight goes a little bit longer but, I don’t know, maybe he’s just good for The Phenom as well.”

As for the great debate as to whether or not there should be a ‘dream fight’ between Anderson Silva & Georges St. Pierre, Mike thinks that GSP is too small to take the fight and that the real dream match-up, pending the outcome of the upcoming Denver card, should involve Anderson Silva fighting Jon Jones.

For a contrarian viewpoint on Anderson Silva…

Nate Wilcox: Anderson Silva’s only had one good rival, no career narrative, and sinks to the level of his opposition

Topics: Brazil, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “Mike Goldberg: 98% of the fans who listen to me on a regular basis appreciate my professionalism”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Goldberg is greatly underappreciated. He has to do so much stuff during the telecast that even MLB or NFL commentators do not. For example, because the fights are put on DVD or Unleashed, he has a very specific timing for what he needs to say. He can’t just roam in his conversation like many other commentators do. It’s very rigid.

    I also think the chemistry between Goldberg and Rogan is outstanding. You can honestly tell they enjoy working together and it makes the entire show that much more enjoyable as a fan.

    He has also taken the time to really learn the sport. I don’t know if he grapples but he does striking. He has done 100 times better then Gus Johnson has done.

    On a side note….

    Very interesting interview. It backs up what I’ve been saying for years…. That Strikeforce was not profitable.

    I think Mike is a combination of informative and in denial about certain topics. His rant about how boxing has basically a better model because of the top .001% of boxers making more money is not in reality. Boxing hurts more then is helped by their model and are now relegated to Premium Channels because of it….

    • edub says:

      You are always going to get an uneducated viewpoint from a MMAwriter trying to use boxing (something he does not follow as often, and as an effect has an uneducated opinion).

      Gus Johnson is on of the biggest wastes of talent in all sports. You can’t find a football/basketball fan who doesn’t enjoy is style, and yet he is used in combat sports now (where few have respect for his style).

  2. Steve4192 says:

    Goldy seems like one of the nicest guys in the industry, and is very good at keeping the show running smoothly, but I really wish they would bring another guy into the booth to help Joe with calling the fight. Goldy is basically useless when it comes to recognizing and calling out the technical aspects of the fight. Let Goldy run the broadcast and handle all the product/sponsor/coming attractions announcements like he does currently, and bring in an ex-fighter to handle calling the technical aspect of the fight.

    Rogan is really good at calling the BJJ stuff, but he struggles sometimes with calling the striking and is terrible with any and all wrestling-based exchanges. Goldy is pretty much useless on play-by-play, and really doesn’t do anything other than shoot the shit with Joe and make canned fight calls. Having a retired wrestle-boxer in the booth would really round out the play-by-play.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Jim Ross has said that Goldberg is required to do too much…

      A former fighter would be a great addition to the booth.

  3. I don’t get the Goldberg hate and I never will.

  4. Kyle says:

    Watching Strikeforce has greatly increased my appreciation of Mike Goldberg.

  5. david m says:

    Goldberg isn’t terrible; he isn’t great either. I like Miletich a lot but don’t know how he would do with Joe and Mike together.

    • Steve4192 says:

      You can’t really compare Goldy and Miletich.

      Goldy is great at running a show, keeping things on schedule, working in sponsor plugs, and generally dealing with the logistics of a broadcast. He is miscast as a play-by-play man. Joe really calls the play-by-play while Goldy chips in with the dumbed down questions so Joe can explain stuff to the audience.

      Miletich OTOH, is not in Goldy’s league in terms of the technical broadcasting stuff (nobody is), but is light years ahead of Goldy in breaking down the technical aspects of a fight. To be honest, he is better than Joe too, but Joe brings a certain energy to the broadcast that Miletich does not. Pat is a great background guy who can chip in when he feels he has something to add, but he can’t carry a broadcast like Joe can.

      I think Goldy, Joe, & Pat would really complement each other nicely and make for an improved broadcast experience. I would love to see it.

    • RST says:

      I had a problem with militich the first time I heard him do an SF booth a few years ago.
      I didn’t even know it was him at the time but the announcer kept playing favorites for certain fighters and saying that one fighter was winning when I’m looking at the screen and he’s obviously not and then goes on to lose the fight. And he did it a few times during the same broadcast.
      I’m thinking to myself “who is this terrible announcer”? And then I found out afterwards that it was militich.

      I dont know if he’s still doing that though, everyone else says he’s pretty good.

      • fd says:

        To be fair, you’d be hard-pressed to find a broadcaster in MMA that doesn’t have the occasional issue with playing favorites.

  6. Zack says:

    Goldie is annoying and one of the main reasons why I prefer to watch events in a bar where i can’t hear the commentary. He never even actually does play by play. I understand that he is hampered by the directions he’s given, but at some point I don’t want to be sold or talked down to anymore. Just call the fight.

  7. CapnHulk says:

    I really enjoy Kenny Florian when he does commentary. An eloquent, experienced fighter can add a lot of insight and technical knowledge to the dialog that you may not necessarily get with just Rogan and Goldberg.

  8. […] Mike Goldberg Slips and Rips in an Interview ( […]

  9. MMA Tycoon says:

    Goldie is pretty decent. He keeps a nice flow to things, which can’t be underestimated. My only real beef is when he says things like “he’s calling for the 2,3” etc, when most people watching won’t have a clue what that means.

  10. […] Mike Goldberg: “98% of the fans who listen to me on a regular basis appreciate my professionalism” ( […]

  11. jdiggity says:

    Maybe the crew over at HBO Boxing has spoiled me, but the ramblings of Mr. Goldberg (who seems like a perfectly nice man) have actually caused me to mute the TV on more than one occasion.

    He also makes it difficult to introduce new people to MMA when they have to listen to a commentator that misstates every other piece of fight action (seriously, he’s about 50% accuracy on the things that come out of his mouth).

    I really hope someone tells him to go and study how Jim Lampley (or even Bob Papa) does it.

  12. Matthew Rokes says:

    Goldberg sucks and the UFC needs to give the fans someone new that knows about the sport. He never shuts up when the action changes and Rogan tries to point it out. He just talks right over him. He is not a fight fan and it shows. I also hate that he pretends to be a fighter by raising his fist at the close of the show. His hand is very feminine and be does not form a fist properly. Very gay! Good luck in rehab Goldberg I hope you get well and move on to the WWE or women’s golf maybe…….

  13. Muck Goldbarg says:

    Goldbarf is annoying as hell and I wish I could mute his mic.

  14. stan kinaz says:

    Goldberg makes me laugh. The only fighting move he calls out is the superman punch. That’s it. He must be related to the Fretittas


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