There is only one voice of the octagon, and it is not Rich Goins. Bruce Buffer has been announcing full time with the UFC since its thirteenth event, and has just released his autobiography, It's time! My 360 degree view of the UFC. Starting with the revelation that Bruce had injured his knee doing the infamous Buffer 360 spin-move at UFC 100 before Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir's rematch, and how he thought it would end his career, this book is more than just the story of how a ring announcer became one of the most recognizable parts of MMA fighting itself.
This autobiography presents the life and times of Bruce Buffer, growing up as a young lad with his kindly mother, firm but fair father, and brother Brian, and working on becoming an entrepreneur in his own right. Buffer started out as a telemarketing salesperson for xerox paper, doing three-hour shifts before his High School classes began, and would soon grow that into his own business and expand into sports collectibles & gun shows. It was on a random day that Bruce was watching boxing on TV when he saw a man with the same last name as him announcing fights, Michael Buffer. When he finally got the nerve to ask his dad about this person, it turned out that this was his long, lost brother, and reconnecting with him is what set him on the path to get into the world of combat sports (but for the rest of that story, you will need to buy the book).
There are plenty of great insider stories from Buffer, like his firsthand account of the infamous Tito Ortiz and Lee Murray brawl in England, his own fight against Frank Trigg in 2006, and much more. Without giving away too many of the most juicy and informative parts of this book, here are a few surprises that you can learn about:
- After the success of the initial season of "The Ultimate Fighter", the office of Mark Burnett (the man behind "Survivor" and "The Apprentice") called Bruce. Burnett was looking for an announcer for his boxing reality series, "The Contender", so Bruce assumed they were looking to hire Michael. Instead, they wanted him. However, Bruce chose to stay loyal to the UFC since his "world has eight walls."
The brawl at the after-party for UFC 13, where Vitor Belfort's striking coach, Al Stankiewicz (affectionately nicknamed "Stankie") managed to anger an inebriated Tank Abbott. Tank, being Tank, swung at Stankie, which caused Vitor and his camp of Brazilians to charge at Abbott, including Wallid Ismail who "sucker-punched" Tank so hard that he hit the ground. The fight began to spill out all over the party, slowly dying out on its own until Mark Coleman (who was not there to fight but just to see the show) walked in and was ready to throw down. Luckily, Big John McCarthy subdued Coleman before "The Hammer" could strike.
- Before Elite XC, boxing promoter Gary Shaw had almost set foot into the MMA world prior to his own company. When Bob Meyrowitz was looking to sell the UFC during its dark days, one of the interested parties was Shaw. The two were set to meet before one of the New Jersey UFC events, but Shaw canceled the morning of their lunch appointment, and just like Bruce wrote in the book, "looking back, I am so happy he did."
I can not lie and say that I was ever too interested in reading about Buffer, but it was the little things that kept me going. Anecdotes from announcing, poker-playing & business advice, and even a brief glimpse at how he manipulates his cue cards to call the fights (Bruce makes a small tear in the bottom of every card he reads from to help "anchor" it into his hand so it does not fly away when he does one of his signature spins) are what make this an interesting read.
This is really a book I can only suggest for the hardcore fans, as there is a lot of fluff beyond those short stories, with whole chapters devoted to talking about how great Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Quinton Jackson are. It drones on, trying desperately to fill those 280 pages with far too much filler. Do I need a chapter on Bruce's dating life, or a brief history of certain fighters that I could have read on Wikipedia? Not at all. Perhaps the issue is not the content, but how the content is presented, since once we leave the continuity of his life with the growing success of the Zuffa UFC, we get what feels like random interviews sewn together with little cohesion. Handled differently, this could have kept my attention for longer spans of time, but instead I found myself having to take plenty of breaks from a pretty short and easy read.
Bruce has led an interesting life full of adventure that comes with announcing one of the most exciting sports in the world, and he is truly a self-made man that has earned everything that has come his way. Unfortunately, it does not necessarily translate to a great book. If you want to read some interesting factoids and tales of MMA history (or if you have a series Bruce Buffer fetish), then It's Time!: My 360-Degree View of the UFC is the right book for you. I found these stories very informative, but I spent more time hoping to read more about that instead of what the majority of the book contains.