The voice of the octagon Bruce Buffer joined MMAMemories.com for a very informative interview on the state of MMA.
MMAMemories.com: Tell us about “your patented spin turn”?
Bruce Buffer: Now that cracks me up as I’ve been doing this to a degree for years but the camera began to catch the 180-degree spin turn and it’s caught on from what I’m told. I am a more physical announcer versus others, which is due to my passion for the moment at hand, and that moment gets accentuated when announcing a much anticipated and exciting fight. Let’s call it the “Buffer 180”. Now when you see the “Buffer 360”, I think people are really going to talk.
MMAMemories.com: You’ve been a UFC insider from the early days, which event would you say is the UFC Fight of Quarter Century, like the equivalent to how Ali vs. Frazier is called boxing’s Fight of the Century? Why?
Bruce Buffer: There are so many. In recent times we have to go with the Couture vs. Sylvia fight which had all the drama and all the build up, with all the surprise. Plus both the first Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock and the Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell fights for the same reasons.
MMAMemories.com: How did TUF1 change the sport and it’s popularity? How did it take UFC to another level?
Bruce Buffer: It allowed the viewers to get into the diverse personalities and route for their favorite fighter as he came up through the ranks of the UFC, which brought more of the 18 – 42 demographic into the UFC and opened the door to the ever proven TV marketing tool of “Free TV, Free TV, Free TV, Pay Per View”, which translates into sold out arenas and large PPV buys. Plus it made SPIKE TV and SPIKE in tune puts it’s all behind the UFC so it was a win-win for all. Wrestling proved this theory years ago and it still works and always will if marketed correctly but there is no guarantee, which is why other televised MMA shows can fail and lose money.
MMAMemories.com: Would you admit to being surprised by the evolution of the UFC since around 2001? Why?
Bruce Buffer: No I’m not surprised at all. It has gone almost exactly as I envisioned it’s timely growth and success. Everyone should be thanking Dana White and the Fertittas for where the UFC and MMA is today, I know I do.
MMAMemories.com: Your thoughts on the legacy of Ken Shamrock?
Bruce Buffer: Long live his legendary warrior spirit.
MMAMemories.com: Your thoughts on Tito leaving?
Bruce Buffer: I’m going to miss him as he’s always been one of my favorite fighters in the UFC… but I’m happy for him because he’s my friend and I like Tito and always want to see him succeed. He is “hands-down” the best self-marketer in MMA and has done very well for himself.
MMAMemories.com: Were you at the infamous Tito Ortiz-Lee Murray street fight? If so, what happened?
Bruce Buffer: Yes I was… it happened quickly and people got hurt. We were all partied out and leaving the club and all hell broke loose when it shouldn’t have… the rest will forever be urban MMA legend.
MMAMemories.com: Your thoughts on Kimbo and how, to many casual fans, he’s the face of the sport?
Bruce Buffer: You’ve got to be kidding… the face of MMA, if so then something is really wrong out there. No disrespect for Kimbo, but he has a long way to go to prove to me he is the face of MMA which is laughable to me. What you have is a marketable fighter who will be brought up carefully against distinctly selected opponents and showcased as a main event in the process. I wish him all success but he would be beat by many UFC light heavy and heavyweight fighters. The best thing Kimbo has aside from being Pro-Elite’s favorite son, is to be trained by Bas Rutten because he is a game athlete and tough so it will be fun to see how he progresses. I’m all about the A-level MMA fighter fighting the best out there is. Kimbo is a throw back to the old Tank Abbott days and so be it, as there is a market for everyone and he has a right to make money just like all other fighters and I hope he makes a ton of cash.
MMAMemories.com: Your thoughts on MMA on CBS and BET?
Bruce Buffer: More MMA for the masses. Success breeds competition it’s no different from the boxing world of the late 80’s and early 90’s as there was boxing everywhere and people were sitting 6 or more to a room splitting the PPV cost, the pizza and beer. Networks for fighting for content.
MMAMemories.com: Do you believe the new Budweiser and Yahoo deals will change the UFC fan base?
Bruce Buffer: Not change, just expand and more reason why the UFC is light years ahead of all else out there marketing and brand recognition wise.
MMAMemories.com: Someday might you be filling in for Michael on HBO Boxing? Is there a successor plan?
Bruce Buffer: No plan as he is the preeminent boxing announcer and although I love boxing my passion lies in MMA. I just filled in for him for HBO’s Casamayor/Katsidis championship fight due to his having surgery and it was fun… I plan on Michael announcing for a long time to come and when needed plus if my schedule is open, I’m always there. After years of announcing multitudes of shows internationally in the fight world, I’m exclusive to the UFC for MMA and only announce other non-MMA shows of my choosing from time to time like boxing or Abu Dhabi submission wrestling. My eyes are on other forms of sports and entertainment outside fighting for what I have planned.
MMAMemories.com: Where do you see the sport going from here? With all the new promoters coming in, how do you see the UFC staying ahead of the competition?
Bruce Buffer: I see the sport growing for years to come with The UFC always ahead of the pack as the Star Wars event of MMA and perceived by fans as the tissue to the Kleenex and the Xerox to the copier. UFC has years more of growth and success behind it and is a role model for other promoters. To be successful in this business is very tough to do. It will take years for another show to match the international brand the UFC has achieved, if ever, not counting the profit potential, if any. I wish all of them good luck because it creates other avenues for fighters to fight and earn income.
MMAMemories.com: How do you see the sport changing over the next 5-10 years?
Bruce Buffer: We will see more great fights and great fighters become legends with plenty of avenues to watch it through plus you’ll see me announcing in the Octagon during the whole process.
MMAMemories.com: What are the most common criticisms you hear of the UFC?
Bruce Buffer: Honestly I hear nothing but praise from the fans and people who stop me in public. A lot of people, especially the internet media and forums get involved in the politics. Have fun; because I’m a fan first and to me all business is the same it’s just the product that’s different. When your ramping up to the top of the mountain, everyone wants you to succeed… and when you make it on top many of those same people find fault in what your doing and can’t wait to see you fail. All I know is they paved the way to success for all and if they ever fail, then all MMA suffers.
MMAMemories.com: If you were the all powerful UFC czar what would you change?
Bruce Buffer: I would handle a lot of things the same and other things differently but it’s easy to sit back and be a Monday morning quarterback. None of us know exactly what is the rhyme or reason behind many recent issues and decisions because we are not in the boardroom, but I do know one thing and that is Dana and the Fertittas are doing a hell of a lot right.
MMAMemories.com: Your thoughts on how the Randy Couture deal played out?
Bruce Buffer: There always two sides to a coin and the outcome was much to the chagrin of all the players involved in some way shape or form. I feel the Octagon is where Randy should fight the last remaining fights of his career. But remember, no one fighter is bigger than the UFC brand although it breaks my heart to see him leave, as he is the greatest MMA role model ever to date. It will not hurt the UFC, it will just not enhance the heavyweight division as it did over the last 18 months and it’s time to build other fighters, which is exactly what the future held in the Octagon if Randy had fought his last fight on his contract this year.