Mike Goldberg spoke out for the first time regarding his abrupt departure from UFC on Monday.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour,” the longtime UFC play-by-play man called the decision not to renew his contract “a shock.”
“I was speechless,” Goldberg said. “I didn’t know what type of emotion to have, because I was just in a state of shock and disbelief.”
While he was surprised by the decision, Goldberg recognizes that his departure may be part of the larger cleaning house that’s been happening since WME-IMG took over the company last year.
“I’m no different than the guy in merchandise, or the 15 vice presidents who got let go, or the entire team in Canada that was shut down,” he said. “I’m not the only guy who was let go by the new ownership. I’m the one being talked about because I had the high-profile job, but I’m not going to sit here and weep because new ownership came in and I was one of the guys who got cut. I was one of a lot of people, and a lot of good people, from the Zuffa era who got cut. And so I felt for my co-workers, for my friends, as much as I felt for myself.”
While UFC President Dana White was public with the fact that Goldberg’s tenure with the company was coming to an end, Goldberg says that he had no such conversation with White.
“Nothing. Which was surprising. Disappointing, certainly,” he said. “But nothing was said, and I’ve got to live with that. At the end of the day, what matters to me is my family, my children. But no, to answer your question directly, there was no conversation. Nothing at all.”
That said, Goldberg doesn’t sound resentful and, when reflecting on his time with UFC, was grateful for all of the support he has received from fans before and after his exit.
“I knew people enjoyed Joe and I on the UFC,” he said. “I knew people always said that it’s different when it’s not Goldie and Rogan. But I never really knew, until now, how much they truly appreciated the job which I had done for two decades. And the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.”
Hiscoe’s Analysis: The way this all happened is still rather puzzling. It really began in early December when Dana White dropped a comment that they were putting together a “dream team” of announcers and that they had someone in mind to work alongside Joe Rogan, Goldberg’s longtime partner. Once that was out there, I wouldn’t have blamed Goldberg if he chose to walk away from the rest of his contract, but he was very professional, finished up his dates, and said nothing in the process.
There’s a lot that you can nitpick about Goldberg as an announcer, particularly in recent years, but overall he was a net positive for the company. Chances are, if you are an MMA fan today, Mike Goldberg was calling the action the moment you got hooked.
2017 is going to be a year of continued change for UFC and replacing Mike Goldberg on big shows will one of the most noticeable changes.
TUESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Bellator did its biggest TV numbers ever for a show not featuring Kimbo Slice on Saturday. Bellator 170 averaged 1.37 million viewers, peaking at 1.85 million for the Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen main event. In the co-feature, 1.7 million viewers witnessed Paul Daley’s flying knee KO over Brennan Ward. The event averaged 1.4 million viewers.
-California State Athletic Commission Executive Director Andy Foster told MMA Fighting that they will not be seeking to punish Tito Ortiz for holding his choke on Chael Sonnen longer than necessary and admitting as much afterwards.
-UFC 211 will be on May 13 from Dallas, Texas, according to Kevin Iole at Yahoo.
Also, no #UFC show in Vegas on Memorial Day this year. Going to Dallas on May 13 instead.
— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) January 23, 2017
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP…
-Marcel Fortuna vs. Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night Houston on Feb. 4.
-Abel Trujillo vs. James Vick is also on for Feb. 4 after their respective opponents pulled out due to injury. Also announced, Alex Morono vs. Niko Price after Sheldon Westcott pulled out of his scheduled fight with Morono.
-Derrick Lewis vs. Travis Browne is the new main event of the Feb. 19 UFC Fight Night from Halifax. The fight was originally scheduled for UFC 208 eight days earlier.
-Sara McMann vs. Liz Carmouche, Sam Sicilia vs. Gavin Tucker, and Ryan Janes vs. Gerald Meerschaert also for the Feb. 19 card from Halifax.
-Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Kennedy at UFC Fight Night Fortaleza on March 11.
-Arnold Allen vs. Makwan Amirkhani at UFC Fight Night London on March 18.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: MONDAY NEWS DIGEST 1/23: Tito Ortiz shares texts that Dana White sent to him to acknowledge his MMA retirement (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)