Joey Beltran was blistering Pat Barry with punches tonight, landing up to four in a row. In the broadcast booth, Beltran's offense was met with complete silence. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg literally said nothing. The announcers had decided that Barry was going to win the standup portion of the fight, and come hell or high water, that's how they were going to call the action.
Every Barry kick was met with a whoop from Rogan, even the ones that never landed or even came close. We were told in the second round that Beltran could barely stand on his lead left leg, despite no evidence of this. Even more damning, there was significant evidence that this wasn't the case at all, as Beltran continued to bull forward.
It was an extremely close, evenly contested fight. But if you listened to it with your eyes closed, you would have pictured a massacre. That's a problem, one we see all too often with the UFC's announce team. To be fair, this is a problem that is bigger than the UFC or even MMA. It's infected sports as a whole. You'll see much worse examples during professional football games every single Sunday as announcers like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have trouble deviating from the script they've worked so carefully on all week with their producers.
In MMA, Frank Mir was the worst offender, famously calling the Miguel Torres and Takeya Mizugaki fight at WEC 40 like Torres was single handedly getting revenge for Peal Harbor, despite a valiant effort by Mizugaki. You expect that from fighters like Mir who was close with Torres. You expect that from Buck, who is often juggling football, baseball, and appearing as a creepy guy in rental car commercials. You don't expect that from the best in the business.
We hear over and over again from fans and pundits that Rogan and partner Goldberg are the top announce team in combat sports. There wasn't much evidence of that tonight. The silence during Beltran's attack tells the tale. Goldberg, the titular play by play man, rarely calls the action anymore. His role seems to be introducing the fight and then looking for an opening to sell product. It was less annoying tonight, as he was plugging a worthy charity, but no less evident. Our own Mike Fagan, the sport's preeminent Goldberg hater, breaks it down:
If Mike Goldberg's flaws as a play-by-play man weren't transparent enough, it's forced Joe Rogan to start calling the action on his own. Rogan has his place as part of a broadcast team, but play-by-play is not his strength. At this point, Goldberg has become a shell of his already bad self, and has now been reduced to a glorified infomercial during UFC broadcasts.
Goldberg's trouble calling the play by play leaves Rogan forced to both call and analyze the action. He's a dynamic announcer and I thought he was as good tonight selling the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund as Goldberg was bad. But he's not Superman. It's time to consider moving Rogan into the position that makes the most sense for him. He should be calling the action as he sees it and a retired fighter or trainer should be providing analysis. If Goldberg is grandfathered in as a permanent employee, let him stay in the booth exclusively to pitch bad movies and video game awards. It's all he's doing anyway.