Every so often, a play-by-play announcer will make a call that can’t be improved on—the kind that resonates years later, evoking all the drama and immediacy of a perfect and memorable moment. AGÜERRRROOO! ... Auburn’s gonna win the football game! Auburn’s gonna win the football game! ... In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.
What’s always made UFC play-by-play guy Mike Goldberg so wonderful is just how far he’s been at every single moment of his broadcast career from seeming as if he’s even in the same field as, say, Ian Darke. (The video above provides some evidence; there are many more like it on Youtube.) For nearly 20 years now, a fight fan watching a Goldberg-called event has been liable to hear the man struggling to pronounce his own name, or the name of the fight promotion, or the word prodigy; or saying something like Michael Jordan-esque in his grappling skills is Travis Lutter; or shouting IT IS ALL OVER!!!, sometimes when the fight was in fact not over. A sort of anti-genius who somehow went decades watching the best fighters in the world from the best seat in the house without learning the names of basic techniques, being able to reliably discern the difference between a fighter on offense and one on defense, or even developing the ability to actually call the fights rather than relying on his partner, nominal color man Joe Rogan, to do so, Goldberg has managed to announce hundreds of memorable fights without, so far as I can remember, once making a call that was memorable for the right reasons. As Bloody Elbow’s Mookie Alexander pointed out earlier today with some choice retweets, he is also as crass and thin-skinned as, say, Vin Scully is gracious:
Today, UFC figurehead Dana White confirmed that Friday’s card will be Goldberg’s final one. We shouldn’t consign the days of teep kicks and some kind of chokes to the dim recesses of our collective memory, though, and in fact we may yet yearn for them. The UFC may have Jon Anik right there, after all—informed, credible, well-prepared, and passionate—but vaguely plausible rumors have White lusting after Jim Rome, an idea that makes listening to Goldberg attempting to pronounce Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s name seem like its own little part of heaven: