Since the inception of the UFC, commentators have been a vital part of the entertainment of the sport. They add their professional insight and analysis, as well as a level of excitement.
Can you imagine how boring a fight would be without them?
So this post goes out to every commentator who screams at the top of his lungs at every knockdown, submission, head kick, etc. I’m looking at you, Joe.
This post will be listing the most famous UFC commentators in order of popularity. This doesn’t necessarily mean how good they are as commentators (which you’ll hear me talk about anyway), it’s simply about how well-known they are.
Alright, enough talking.
Here are the eleven most famous UFC commentators!
At #11, we have long-time English commentator, John Gooden.
If you tend to only watch pay-per-view UFC events, or events in the States, then you are probably not too familiar with John Gooden.
John Gooden is a play-by-play commentator for the UFC, often commentating along with fellow Englishman Dan Hardy. He has been commentating for the UFC since 2014.
However, he and Dan Hardy tend to serve as commentators for shows held in the U.K., which isn’t too often (at least when compared to U.S. events).
Gooden is probably more often recognized for being a co-host of the UFC’s Inside The Octagon, where he and Dan Hardy analyze upcoming fights and predict their outcomes.
At #10, we have the former fighter, Dan Hardy.
So you heard a good bit about Dan Hardy when I talked about John Gooden just now, and with good reason. Dan and John are often seen working together, either commentating or hosting Inside The Octagon.
Dan Hardy is a former MMA fighter, even having a title fight at UFC 111 against Georges St-Pierre. Dan Hardy had his last UFC fight in 2012, and did not fight again due to being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Due to being unable to fight, Dan started commentating for the UFC, and continues to do so. Today, he is the face of English UFC commentary alongside John Gooden, and is also the co-host of Inside The Octagon.
At #9 on our list of popular UFC commentators, we have Paul Felder.
What? Paul Felder? Isn’t he a fighter?
I’m glad you asked! Yes, Paul Felder is an active MMA fighter in the UFC’s lightweight division. Paul Felder has been fighting for the UFC since 2014, and has been working his way up the rankings since his debut.
Felder made his debut as a commentator at UFC Pittsburgh in September 2017. After showing his commentating skills on smaller FS1 events, he was promoted to commentator for a pay-per-view event at UFC 230.
He has actively juggled his role as a commentator and a UFC fighter successfully, albeit not without remarks from his opponents.
One funny moment occurred during media day face-offs, when Paul Felder was scheduled to fight Mike Perry at welterweight. As Mike walks towards Felder, he asked, “Ready to be a full-time commentator?”
Felder has continued to serve as a commentator for UFC events, although not as often as other people on this list. For this reason, he is at #9.
Jimmy Smith is #8 on our list of popular UFC commentators.
Jimmy Smith is also the third fighter on our list, and definitely won’t be the last. However, Smith had a relatively short career as a fighter, having a total of six pro fights over three years.
People who don’t recognize him from the UFC will probably know him for being a host on a series called Fight Quest. It was a popular show where the hosts traveled around the world to get trained in various different martial arts.
After getting accepted for the job, Smith decided to retire from fighting. From there, Smith continued his career in media, serving as a commentator for Pride and Bellator as well as hosting American Ninja Warrior.
He eventually ended up as a commentator for the UFC after leaving Bellator in 2017. However, Smith only spent one year as a commentator with the UFC, later leaving for Invicta FC.
Despite no longer commentating for the UFC, Jimmy Smith is #8 on the list because he is recognized by most people from Fight Quest, and because he was a great commentator during his short run with the UFC.
At #7 on our list, we have Brendan Fitzgerald.
Brendan Fitzgerald has had a career in sports news for a while, but has only been a UFC commentator since 2017. Prior to joining the UFC, he was a studio host for ESPN.
However, Fitzgerald is probably best known for his reaction to an angry crowd at UFC Mexico City, after the main event was called off due to an eye poke 15 seconds into the fight. You can see the video of the commentary table here.
The crowd became understandably angry, throwing drinks and objects towards the cage. Michael Bisping, who was also commentating for this event, states, “the crowd are not happy!”
Fitzgerald is heard saying, “I’m gonna just, duck under the table here”, which he does. It was a pretty funny scenario, especially with remarks from Bisping like, “No it’s ok. I don’t hide Brendan.”
Aside from this, I don’t know too much about Brendan, which is why he is #7.
At #6 on our list, we have the former UFC Middleweight Champion, Michael Bisping.
So you likely already known who Bisping is, as I already talked about him a bit. He can be seen during the UFC Mexico City fiasco, shadowboxing and recording an Instagram video, as Brendan hides under the desk.
Bisping is one of the many fighters who pursue a career in commentary with the UFC. Bisping is well-known in the MMA world for his witty and colorful commentary, as well as for the experience and insight he offers during fights.
Bisping is popular among fans due to his time as champion as well as his charisma and humor. For these reasons, Bisping is #6.
#5 is Dominick Cruz, and I have a lot to say for this one. Sorry in advance.
Dominick Cruz is a former UFC Bantamweight Champion turned commentator. The addition of Cruz to the UFC’s commentary team comes with a bit of a backstory, so let’s cover that real quick.
Longtime commentator Mike Goldberg (I’ll talk about him more later) was set to leave the UFC at the end of 2016. Up to that point, the UFC had kept the commentary between two people, usually Mike as play-by-play and Joe Rogan as the color commentator.
With the departure of Goldberg, the UFC decided to not only replace Goldberg with another play-by-play commentator (Jon Anik), but also add another color commentator/fight expert to the table. That’s where Dominick Cruz comes in.
Cruz’s first commentary gig was at UFC 209, and he has continued as the fighter commentator at several pay-per-view events ever since. He seems to take his job seriously, and I respect his effort, and he also sometimes has good insight.
But I loathe his commentary. He’s just boring. I know Joe is the one that’s there to be exciting, but Dominick tries to match Joe’s excitement and he just can’t. I wouldn’t mind this so much however, if it wasn’t for some of his awful calls during fights.
There have been a lot, but who can forget McGregor vs Khabib?
While Khabib was on top of McGregor, repeatedly punching him with no response from McGregor, this was Dominick’s “amazing” insight (plus Joe’s retort):
Dominick: “He’s trying to gas out Khabib”
Joe: “Really? Because I think he’s getting smashed.”
Dominick: “Maybe it’s a little bit of both.”
Even Khabib has mocked Dominick for his ridiculous commentary. Here’s a video of Khabib in practice, where he basically calls Dominick crazy for suggesting that McGregor was tiring him out, by letting Khabib hit him.
Then there was that one time, when he claimed Jessica Andrade couldn’t slam Rose Namajunas while Rose was threatening a kimura.
Jessica lifts Rose.
Rose attempts submission.
“Nope, she can’t lift there.”
Boom. Rose knocked out by slam two seconds later.
It just hurts to watch.
But yet, as bad as he can sometimes be as a commentator, he is still pretty well known in the MMA community. For that reason, he is #5.
At #4, we have the other fighter who joined after Goldberg left, Daniel Cormier.
So similar to Dominick Cruz, Daniel “DC” Cormier joined the commentary table as the fighter commentator after Goldberg left. DC’s first event was UFC 208. Although the three-man table usually has one fighter and one color commentator, on occasion you will see DC and Dominick commentate together.
I personally think DC does a much better job at commentating than Dominick Cruz. He is a very good speaker, which is essential for a commentator, and probably comes from his experience as a host on FOX.
He also gives amazing insight into the wrestling exchanges during the fights, which is great, because I don’t know how to wrestle. I especially appreciated his live breakdown of the exchanges between Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo and dominant champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 227.
My only complaint is that sometimes, his commentary can be kinda weird. For example, when Rose Namajunas bet Joanna Jędrzejczyk, he could be heard yelling “Thug Rose!” repeatedly. I may be nitpicking here, but it was just kinda odd.
Maybe he just gets flustered when he’s excited. Regardless, I still think DC is a great commentator. Due to being a part of UFC on FOX for a good while, as well as being a dual-weight UFC champion, he is #4 on this list.
At number #3 for most popular commentators, we have the great Mike Goldberg.
Oh how we love Mikey Goldberg.
Mike Goldberg started his run as a UFC commentator all the way back in 1997, at UFC Ultimate Japan (aka UFC 15.5). Mike has an amazing voice, and so even though he didn’t have much MMA knowledge, he fit perfectly as a play-by-play commentator.
Mike Goldberg was also great at bringing excitement to the fights through his commentating. He was well known for his catchphrase: “It is all over! Just like that!”
And sure, he was lacking in the technical knowledge of MMA. Sure, he had some slip-ups (here’s some classics). But we didn’t care. As one of the comments in the video states:
“Mike Goldberg was a goober. But he was our goober.”
Unfortunately, when the UFC was sold in 2016, Mike Goldberg was one of the many employees that were let go by the new owners.
The release of Goldberg cam unexpected to many, with Goldberg himself saying, “It was a shock. I was speechless. I didn’t know what type of emotion to have because I was just in a state of shock and disbelief.”
The only reason Goldberg isn’t #2 is because it’s been years since his last show with the UFC. He is currently a commentator for Bellator.
Current play-by-play commentator Jon Anik is #2 on our list.
Jon Anik was chosen to replace Mike Goldberg as the play-by-play commentator for pay-per-view events after the UFC released Goldberg in 2016. However, Jon Anik had already been working for the UFC for years at that point.
Prior to being a pay-per-view commentator, Anik was a commentator on FX and FUEL TV shows. He also hosted UFC Ultimate Insider.
Jon Anik is a pretty good play-by-play commentator, and I’d say he is just as entertaining as Goldie, albeit with fewer mistakes. Since he is the current commentator, this edges him out over Goldie in terms of popularity, putting him at #2 on this list.
And at #1, which you probably already knew, is Joe Rogan.
Joe Rogan is the current color commentator for UFC pay-per-view events. He had his first show at UFC 12, all the way back in 1997 (a bit before Goldberg). After a couple of years, he left the organization due to the high cost of travel to get to the events.
In 2002, after the UFC had been acquired by Zuffa, Joe rejoined as a commentator. He has remained as a color commentator ever since.
Joe is recognized for being an expert martial artist, having kickboxed for most of his life and holding black belts in Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I wrote a post on his extensive martial arts experience if you want to learn more. This allows him to give us insight into the details of what transpires in a fight.
For example, the Twister is a very rare submission in MMA, having only been used a handful of times in all of MMA history. And yet, Joe was quickly able to recognize that Chan Sung Jung was attempting the rare submission live, despite it never having been used (at that point) in the UFC.
Here’s a clip of the amazing move, along with Joe’s equally impressive commentary.
It may not seem like much, but Joe is one of the few people in the world who could have recognized that move, and one of even fewer who can explain how it works.
Outside of the UFC, Joe hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the world, The Joe Rogan Experience. The controversial topics he covers makes him the subject of many headline news stories.
All-in-all, Joe is a perfect fit for the color commentator role in the UFC. This, combined with his success outside the UFC, put him at #1 on our list of most popular UFC commentators. Thanks for reading.