UFC 155 took place last Saturday and the night was filled with explosive highlights to successfully close out this year in MMA. Cain Velasquez regained his UFC Heavyweight Title in a mauling over the former champ, Junior Dos Santos in the night’s main event. The fights, from top to bottom, were extremely exciting and most fans walked away with a smile on their faces. However, most fans were also well aware that the night was still missing one aspect that we’ve all become so accustomed to hearing on PPV cards: the voice of play-by-play commentator Mike Goldberg.
News broke the day before the fights that Goldberg would not be attending/commentating (due to “taking some time off”) and that he would be replaced in the booth by the UFC’s newest voice, Jon Anik.
Anik has been doing the play-by-play commentary on FX and FUEL TV for the past year but this was the first time we’ve heard him commentate a PPV card with Joe Rogan, the UFC’s long-time color commentator. Many fans and media members were far from impressed with Anik’s performance but I think that we should give him the benefit of the doubt and at least give him some credit for stepping up and doing a decent job on a single-day’s notice. This was his first time working side-by-side with Joe Rogan and I felt that the two actually compiled decent chemistry by the PPV segment of the event. Anik was feeding Rogan great facts that allowed Joe to go off on his legendary “rants” and unmatched knowledge of positions and grappling. Anik was really just giving Rogan the openings or “set-ups” he needed to do what he usually does, and that’s give the fans “the Joe Rogan MMA experience”. Anik, just like Goldberg, was not the main voice or commentator of the night. Rogan is, by far, the voice of the UFC. There have been a few events in the past that Joe Rogan has missed and for me, those are the events that I really feel shift in excitement and build-up.
Joe Rogan is the voice that you expect to hear when you sit down to watch a UFC PPV. This is not to say that I didn’t miss Mike Goldberg. It was one of the first things I noticed when I tuned in to catch the fights this past weekend. Goldberg has become the irreplaceable teammate of Rogan and together they create a duo that will never be matched in UFC commentary for the rest of time. With this being said I feel that Anik stepped in and, to use a baseball analogy, hit a double, which is much better than striking out or even popping up to center field. Anik did what he was supposed to do and that was to “fill-in” for Mr. Mike Goldberg. I think that people get much too tied up on whether Anik did as good of a job as Goldberg would have instead of just taking it for what it was…Anik was the replacement. There was no point in time that I felt Anik dropped the ball or even made himself sound silly. He was knowledgeable in his MMA terminology, he knew the fighters and their history, and he was never once stepped on the toes of Joe Rogan. I felt that Jon Anik did a good job in stepping up and taking the seat of Mike Goldberg, even though he and the rest of the MMA community knows that he will never be Mike Goldberg.
I thoroughly enjoyed the fights on Saturday and Jon Anik did not do anything to make me enjoy the fights any less than I would have if Goldberg was commentating. In other words, UFC 155 won’t stick in my mind as the card that Anik tried to fill in for Goldberg. Instead, Anik did his job like a professional and I’ll remember UFC 155 for what it is supposed to be remembered for: its amazing fights!
My hat goes off to Jon Anik…he had to fill impossibly big shoes and he didn’t trip and fall one time. Nice try Mr. Anik. You’re no Mike Goldberg but you do your own thing pretty well. For that, I give two thumbs-up.
We all hope that Mike Goldberg is well and, although Anik is a great replacement, we look forward to his return in 2013.
Happy New Year, Fight Fans!