Last weekend’s card saw a rare outing for Dan Hardy on commentary. The Nottingham resident left his mark after controversially shouting at Herb Dean when Birmingham’s Jai Herbert was left seemingly out of it. He was left flat after a large overhand left from Francisco Trinaldo. Whether Hardy was right or wrong to do what he did is still up for debate but the situation certainly put the colour commentary role in the spotlight. Here is a list of my TOP SIX UFC colour commentators:
6) Dan Hardy – Debuted 2014
Sorry Dan. Despite his ability to offer detailed analysis and cast an eagle eye over proceedings, Dan Hardy is not often used by the UFC. He is mostly friendly and good-natured but in the back of your mind you know Dan is capable of losing his cool (as we saw at the weekend). Despite his best intentions at the event, I think there may be repercussions for him following his actions last week.
He has built up a good chemistry with fellow Brit John Gooden but both share a trait that holds them back in my eyes: their accents. I am just not sure commentary with a British accent has quite established itself in the UFC. It is very difficult for us Englishmen to offer the over-the-top excitement and passion that the Yanks are known for. It is particularly difficult for Brits to tread on a patch that is already so well claimed by the Americans. Maybe it is just me but if a football match has American commentary, it is just not the same. Maybe this can change over time but would require the UFC putting more faith in the British commentators for the bigger events.
5) Paul Felder – Debuted 2017
As a fighter, Paul is one of my favourites to watch, as a result of his determination and passion. He has not quite yet been able to deliver the same attributes on commentary. He can offer good insights into fights but can sometimes go missing a little (more so in the three-man booths). He is rather new to the job and I am sure he will grow in time. More than capable of giving a few laughs along the way, I think Paul could push himself up the rankings in a couple of years, once he has grown into the role.
4) Michael Bisping – Debuted 2018
I know what you’re thinking, “How can Bisping be number four after what you said about British accents” but come on, that accent isn’t British anymore. Some people simply find his voice annoying. I actually think the unique little hybrid that he has got going on is not out of place amongst the American members of the booth. The UFC seemingly feels the same way after Michael’s recent promotion to PPV at UFC 251.
Michael’s life as a commentator came about after a successful debut on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Jovial and passionate, Michael has quickly developed chemistry with most of his fellow commentary team.
I have seen some people moan about Bisping’s tendency to relate a lot of things back to himself and his own career. He will often joke about this himself and even though I can see why he does it, he is the only commentator that regularly does. Some fans may prefer this but Michael just needs to be careful it doesn’t transform into the Carl Froch’s, “I’ve fought in front of 80,000 people” vibe. His favourite line on his Believe You Me Podcast is “When I knocked out Luke Rockhold on two weeks’ notice”. Unless I’ve missed it, he’s not used that on commentary, I guess it’s only time to panic if he does.
3) Dominic Cruz – Debuted 2016
Described as having “no mind” by Khabib after his commentary on the McGregor fight, Dominic Cruz divides opinion like no other. I saw people complaining that Cruz is prone to bias towards his team and friends during fights. Probably one of the hardest things to do as a commentator is not show bias and to be fair to Dominic, I have not seen this recently.
His lack of charisma and excitement also draws criticism but we have seen the UFC continues to put faith in his for PPVs and in a three-man booth, this deficiency can be masked by the other colour commentator.
I wouldn’t say it to his face, but Cruz reminds me of the small, nerdy accountant you often get in gangster movies. He may not stand out amongst the bigger men but there is nobody better at crunching those numbers and as a result, is able to offer the most detailed and accurate breakdowns of fights.
2) Daniel Cormier – Debuted 2016
The most successful fighter to grace the UFC commentary team has just fallen short of the top spot here. Unlike any of his commentary colleagues (you could argue with the exception of Dominic Cruz) DC is still pushing at the very top of his division. He is capable of offering unique insights into fight preparations, being the primary trainer at American Kickboxing Academy offers him a little edge, knowing what is necessary to actually run a gym. He obviously has the ability to break down the fights in fantastic detail and his chemistry with any of his co-commentators cannot be faulted.
We eagerly await Cormier’s third fight with Stipe Miocic. Whatever the result, it will likely be his last inside the octagon. It is amazing to see how many avenues DC has been able to set himself up with, ready for his impending retirement. Newish to the commentary booth, we could very well see DC become the number one commentator in the years to come.
1) Joe Rogan – Debuted 2002
And still…Some put him as the best, others (shockingly) as the worst, but much like the UFC, I still see Joe Rogan as the number one commentator. Despite being a black belt in BJJ, Joe has never fought in the octagon but it could possibly be this that makes him such a natural. The reason we can relate to Joe Rogan is that – just like us – he is a fan. He is in fact a huge fan and it is because of this that his passion still glows nearly two decades on. Unlike the other commentators, commentary is not something Joe wanted to do after his retirement in the Octagon, this is just what Joe wanted to do full stop.
I remember him from my childhood when I used to watch Fear Factor. The next time I saw Joe, I didn’t immediately realise it was him. He had bulked and to put it kindly, changed his hairstyle. Even from those early days, you could see Joe had something special on-screen and that his voice was perfectly suited to presenting.
Another side project for Rogan is comedy and this again aids his ability to entertain in the commentary booth. He knows when to switch from joker to serious and this is highlighted by his interviews inside the octagon. I will put him down as the best at that too. His chemistry with co-commentators and fighters is almost faultless.
Joe no longer commentates on any UFC events outside of the US and it appears that his career in the booth is drawing to a close. It may be time for a new champion in the UFC Commentary Division. Who is your next champ?