Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
These are the names of the voices UFC fans have been hearing for over a decade in what everyone recognizes as the best combat product in the world. The UFC isn’t the best just for the fighters it showcases in the cage, but also for the people that represent it outside of the cage.
Well, it looks like that great duo of the UFC is soon to be a thing of the past.
According to some reports, it appears that UFC commentators Goldberg and Rogan might be on the chopping block, as WME-IMG, officially the new owners of the UFC, will be making a huge business decision that will change the landscape of the organization. Apparently, at the top of the list is getting rid of the company’s “hype masters.”
As the UFC begins its transformation into a new phase where it moves even further toward the mainstream, Goldberg and Rogan could be relieved of their duties, just so the new owners can demand more money from the next network that will broadcast its product. Reportedly, the owners are requesting a staggering $450 million, and to make this deal happen, the UFC is willing to get rid of its main broadcast team.
According to a report from Sports Business Daily, which goes into great detail on all the negotiations that will be taking place over the next year, the network that will broadcast the UFC in 2018 will be granted much more control on the production side:
The new package also could include the significant change of having the networks produce the events, sources said. The UFC now pays all production costs, so that change would increase costs for the media partner.
If the UFC has been handling the production aspect of its programming all this time, the company obviously has made final calls on who will broadcast the events and what kind of style it wants to have on the mic. If the network takes over, however, there is no doubt things will switch up and the network will do things its own way. It’s more cost-efficient, and it gives more promotion to the broadcasters they already have. Goldberg and Rogan aren’t employed by Fox. They work for the UFC. They don’t have their own programs on a Fox Sports channel, whereas Karyn Bryant and Kenny Florian, for example, host UFC Tonight on Fox Sports 1 and are employed by Fox.
Let’s say the next network to broadcast the UFC becomes the head of production. The network might put the same guy who announces Major League Baseball as the lead announcer for UFC events, too. The network will also be able to decide that this particular announcer would be a good team with Brian Stann, instead of Rogan, in the broadcast booth. Whatever the choices are, the announcer might not end up being someone who’s been covering live fights for almost 20 years, like Goldberg has. Instead, they will put in a person who doesn’t know much about MMA or its fighters, and just tells you what’s happening. They won’t have much insight, because in most sports, that’s typically the job of the color commentator. MMA is different.
The unique thing about announcing in MMA is both the broadcaster and the commentator are sometimes equally knowledgeable on what they’re observing in the cage or ring. They aren’t just giving you what you see, but they give you the story behind the fighters. The commentator expands on this point and provides even more insight. As a fan, my fear is that this won’t be the case if the new owners decide to go in the direction reports suggest.
Production value is important in sports, but it’s also something that shouldn’t be messed with when the status quo works. Goldberg, with all of his weird quirks and repetitive, but catchy, phrases, is a unique broadcaster. He has a knack for calling fights, just like recently retired Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was great at calling baseball games. You may not always love their style, but they are talented in how they do it and it’s their craft. The same goes for Rogan, who has the great ability to analyze the intricacies of the fight right in front of your eyes, a lot of times explaining to the viewer what’s going to happen before it happens. As a fan, you can come to appreciate that, because it’s different than other commentators in other sports.
So, why should the broadcast booth be altered? It works fine. If it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.
Unfortunately, because of the demands of our corporate-run, capitalistic system, companies need to make decisions that they probably don’t want to, while other times, they make ill-fated decisions that could end up biting them in the butt.
If Goldberg and Rogan get ousted as a broadcast team, fans aren’t going to take kindly to it. For all the old-school fight fans who have watched them do their thing as a team for more than a decade, it will be a huge blow. A lot of us grew up watching and listening to this duo. Taking them away like this might ruin the interest we have always had.
We all understand the concept of change, but sometimes change has to happen under its own volition, as Rogan has recently hinted while beginning to wind down his UFC tenure. There are certainly those fans who don’t like the news of Rogan leaving, but at he decided this for himself and is not getting pushed out.
The next network that broadcasts the UFC needs to let things happen naturally. It can’t change something and expect the viewers to accept it, especially when it involves a sport like MMA, which is still growing and improving. If the new owners or the network defy this natural process, then they will be in for a rude awakening.