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.