When it comes to fights, commentators wield a great deal more power than they sometimes seem to realize. Too much focus on one fighter’s achievements throughout the fight and not enough on the other’s and you can color the perception of every fan listening. There is an argument to be made that this is in part why fans the world over believe that Alexander Gustaffson wiped the floor with Jon Jones last year, while the judges thought it was a much closer match. Most people, apparently including Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, didn't seem to be remotely expecting that The Mauler would actually show up and straight maul Jonny Bones. In their surprise and excitement, they infected the listening audience with those same feelings. Maybe, had we watched the fight with no sound we’d all have come away with the same impressions we did anyway (I believe I would have, at least), but unless you’re a fighter yourself, the influence of the commentator definitely matters. A lot of us are taking their word for it about how the fight is really going.
For this reason, having actual veteran fighters as commentators is just awesome. As a relatively new fan of MMA I have a lot to learn and feel most inclined to hear it from someone who's been there. And so, the UFC introduced “The Outlaw” Dan Hardy as it’s newest commentator last night at UFC Fight Night, and I have to say that I hope they bring him back many more times in the future. Hardy’s fights were some of my favorite to watch during his tenure in the welterweight division and it was a huge bummer to find out that he may not be able to fight again in the future. He was a real character and I was happy to find out that it wasn’t truly goodbye.
For a first time as one of the main commentators on a fight card, and the one responsible for the post fight interviews in the cage, his minor showings of nerves were far less than what I would have expected, because let's face it, most of us would trip over our own words and feet until they drug us off with a stage hook. His combination of easy humor, simple breakdowns of what was happening and his perspective from his own career kept things moving and entertaining. He seemed about as fair and unbiased as possible; if he had any preference for his home country fighters, I couldn't tell. Adding to all that, there’s something innate about the British accent when carried by a guy we all know is bad ass in real life that makes anything he says sound legit. Also, I'm glad he's keeping the mohawk.
It would please me greatly if Dan Hardy and Joe Rogan got the chance to commentate together at some point in the future. Joe's accolades as Tae Kwon Do Grand Champion and his black belt in Braziallian Jiu Jitsu, combined with Dan's years as an MMA fighter in the very promotion for which he now provides commentary, and with both of them possessing a knack for breaking it down for the rest of us, the two of them as a team could be a wealth of information. Based on the ease of their conversation when Dan dropped in for Joe’s podcast last summer I think their chemistry cageside would be effortless, and we’d be in for a whole card of informed explanations, personal experience and pure comedy. Here’s hoping.
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