Last weekend at UFC 207, we heard the final broadcast for UFC veteran lead play-by-play announcer, Mike Goldberg.
Since making his debut at UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan on Dec. 21, 1997 in Yokohama, Japan, his voice has been synonymous with the UFC. He has called the vast majority of UFC PPVs and TV broadcasts over the last two decades, most often alongside his partner, Joe Rogan.
Rogan also recently restructured his UFC contract for 2017 which will see him now working a lighter schedule, mainly made up of PPV events in North America. Now we head into 2017 without Mike Goldberg and with less Joe Rogan than before, continuing the implementation of a new era in the UFC under WME-IMG ownership.
The UFC didn’t address Goldberg’s exit from the company on the UFC 207 broadcast. At the end of the show during the credits, Goldberg took a few seconds to thank some of the UFC’s production team personally. He said nothing about his departure nor did he share his thoughts on it.
This week Goldberg finally issued a statement, expressing his thoughts and feelings regarding the 19 years he spent with the company, along with a playful jab at himself for one of his biggest commentary gaffes. He wrote:
“I wish I could respond to every single fan, fighter, and member of the media who reached out and showed their support, gratitude, and appreciation. It has been overwhelming and so gratifying! Thank you!!
“Every single UFC, from Ultimate Japan to UFC 207, my primary focus has been on just two things! First, to bring passion, energy, and raw emotion to our fans around the world, dedicated, diehard fans like none other! Second, to properly represent each and every fighter, from UFC newcomer to veterans with 20-plus Octagon battles. Our fighters work so hard and sacrifice so much it, was my responsibility to properly prepare and tell their stories!!”
“Tommy Toe Hold, that video was hilarious!”
“And just for the record, I still believe that Anderson Silva’s Precision is Precise.”
Despite the circumstances and the way he was let go after staying loyal to the company and the length of time worked there, Goldberg was professional to the end. Or as he might put it, “a class act.” Instead of perhaps being annoyed at the way he was treated and that the UFC did not even pay tribute to him and his hard work during his last show, he thanked UFC fans as well as even managing to poke a bit of fun at himself regarding his reputation for gaffes over the years.
Many top fighters and the MMA community as a whole acknowledged Goldberg’s contributions to the sport and the UFC, although Goldberg’s son, Kole, shared his frustration about the lack of a send off for his father, after almost 20 years of service. Many people shared his opinion on this matter.
So far no reason he been given for Goldberg’s departure, despite Dana White confirming it before UFC 207 and a replacement will be made for the summer of this year. According to reports, radio talk show host Jim Rome has been rumored to be Goldberg’s replacement and, this week, the UFC hired former WWE commentator and ESPN analyst, Todd Grisham, who according to reports is not being brought in to replace Goldberg per se, but will be given the chance to do play-by-play on UFC broadcasts. That will reportedly begin this coing weekend at “UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn.”
White mentioned recently that has has been trying to build a “dream team” on commentary for a long time and, obviously now, Goldberg was not part of that vision
It remains to be seen what Goldberg’s next move is post-UFC. He will no doubt have a lot of options if he still wants to commentate in MMA and his recent actions on social media seem to support this theory.
This week, Goldberg followed several different MMA companies and figures, including Bellator, ONE FC, Rich Franklin, and Victor Cui from ONE FC. These are two options, along with other possible companies like RIZIN.
The best option for Goldberg would be Bellator, though, and with the way Bellator has been snapping up former UFC fighters and recent free agents from the UFC recently, it seems likely that they might want to add the man who has been the voice of the UFC for so long to their broadcast team. It’s something which could add even more credibility to the growing brand.
Goldberg’s voice has been the soundtrack to the biggest moments in MMA and many stars have been made with his voice calling the action. It’s something which could add so much to the Bellator broadcasts and could, in a way, help elevate their homegrown fighters.
Whatever happens, Goldberg deserves to be recognized for his contributions to the UFC at some point, hopefully with a future place in the UFC Hall Of Fame. PPVs won’t be the same without his voice calling the action. Whoever steps into his shoes will have a tough job replacing him due to his tenure and familiarity with the fans.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT 1/1: Ronda Rousey’s devastating UFC 207 loss and what is next for her
(D.R. Webster writes “The Sunday Supplement” for MMATorch each week and also authors the MMATorch Daily Trivia feature. He has written for Daily Record Sport, WrestleTalk TV, Sports Kings, and a variety of other combat sports sites and publications, including review shows and DVDs, news reporting, columns, and fantasy articles.)