Many longtime UFC fans still remember when the Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan tandem ruled the play-by-play booth.
Goldberg, 56, called fights for the UFC from 1997 to 2017, before moving on to Bellator. Currently he is a free agent, but it would not be surprise if someone like ESPN picked him up. A lot of fans look back on Goldberg with mixed feelings, critical of his gaffes and alleged lack of knowledge of the support
Meanwhile, Rogan, 53, has been with the UFC since UFC 12 in 1997 and continues to call fights on a pay-per-view basis alongside the current generation. Most fans know Rogan’s story as a stand-up comedian and his successful Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Some current fans also look critically on Rogan as a relic from another era.
But to most longtime fans, the duo were the voice of the UFC, with many memorable calls of some of the UFC’s greatest bouts. Here are three of their greatest calls, in chronological order.
UFC 66 – CHUCK LIDDELL VS. TITO ORTIZ II
This was a perfect storm. The bad blood between Liddell and Ortiz was boiling, the fight was a rematch at the electric MGM Grand, and you have a rival of both fighters, Randy Couture, as a bonus. Goldberg is often derided by critics for his gaffes and lack of knowledge but this in peak form here, with him and Joe constantly asking Randy good questions during the fight leading to great analysis and some humor from Randy. It also led to a memorable catchphrase from Goldberg:
Chuck can damage you instantaneously – Mike Goldberg
This call weaved in all the elements of a great call. Great play-by-play chemistry with healthy amounts of humour, storytelling, analysis thrown in. I was tempted to throw in the UFC 47 call too as it was pretty good, but I do think this one was slightly better.
UFC 116 – LESNAR VS. CARWIN
Another thing bout Goldie and Logan was that when it came to the big fight, their quality seemed to rise to the occasion. Brock Lesnar was in the peak of his run when he came back from Diverticulitis to unify the heavyweight belt with interim champ Shane Carwin.
Shane Carwin, pounding away! – Mike Goldberg UFC 116
It helped that the first round was a scorcher, with Lesnar beaten to within an inch of the fight getting called and then rallying in the second round. But you could feel all of the excitement the possible upset and the amazing comeback in the call. This was an exciting call that simply called the action as it unfolded.
UFC 126 – SILVA VS. BELFORT
This fight was famous for the spectacular highlight-reel knockout of Vitor Belfort, but considering there wasn’t a lot of action until moments before the big finish, the call expertly used it to explain the tactics of both fighters, particularly Silva.
A front kick to the face! – Joe Rogan UFC 126
The call is particularly noteworthy for Rogan’s trademark orgasmic reaction. But notice Rogan explaining why Silva was being criticized for less than exciting recent fights with Demian Maia and Patrick Cote. I also thought they laid out Belfort’s narrative – an older mature champion and pioneer with an opportunity to apply what he has learned in his biggest fight – rather well.
There are many other calls that deserve consideration, but Goldberg and Rogan provided the play-by-play soundtrack – when the company really needed it – paving the way for Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier, Dominick Cruz, and the others that capably handle it today.
As Goldberg himself would say: “And it is all over.”