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WWE’s Jim Ross breaks down UFC 87

Last time when we posted WWE play-by-play announcer Jim Ross’ critique of a UFC pay-per-view event, it was one of our most read articles for the month. Well, Ross is back at it again, this time with an even more thorough critique of UFC 87.

I wanted to post some of his thoughts again. As a huge Ross fan, I marked out recently when we were on the same flight from Philadelphia to Dallas last month. It was pretty early in the morning, so I didn’t want to disturb him. Early morning flights after you worked late the night before are the worst. It was still pretty cool getting to sit one row behind the guy (he was the last row in first class, I was in the first row of coach).

While reading his thoughts, please keep in mind that Ross is a pro wrestling-man who has been involved with that industry almost his entire adult life. He is also a former WWE Vice President of Talent Relations and admittedly is more fan than expert when it comes to MMA. None-the-less, I still think his perspective is very interesting.

On various production elements (morphed by me into one paragraph):

The pre-show interviews from the key participants felt unnecessary. After watching the 30 minute pre pay per view show, I felt like I had heard the material enough already. Let’s get to business. … But if pre show interviews are going to be used, the UFC should consider identifying the interviewees with graphics. … The sponsor signs in the fighter’s corners has got to go. Or classed up. Something. … Announcers (Mike) Goldberg and (Joe) Rogan always do a solid job and I enjoy listening to them because it is clear that they thoroughly prepare for which I have ample respect…. I do think that they could lay out more especially on the fighter’s entrances so we fans at home can hear the natural ambiance. I like to hear boos, cheers, catcalls and all the other unique sounds that come from an atmosphere like Target Center was Saturday night. … It’s easy to get too familiar with the Harley Davidson spiel…”only motorcycle worthy of being in the Octagon.” Please tweak the copy so I don’t tune out when I hear it. That’s not the purpose. … The UFC needs a 3rd voice, a voice over guy, to read the copy for the fighter’s packages and any thing else they can take off Mike Goldberg’s plate. Doing play by play is plenty even with a partner like Joe Rogan. … The broadcasters having to sell live event tickets during the action of the final two matches was distracting. Having been there I understand one reads what they are produced to read but from a fan’s perspective it annoyed me. Sell tickets between bouts or just use a graphic and no audio sell but keep the main event (s) clean. …Post match interviews on these events are often times a train wreck. That may be a good thing for some but for my two cents this aspect of the presentation needs addressing.

On Brock Lesnar:

Brock Lesnar was a beast Saturday night winning by unanimous decision against Heath Herring. Lesnar who made weight at 265 likely tipped the Toledos at around 280 by fight time and used that weight and strength advantage effectively. Lesnar delivered some nasty knees throughout the fight. The former NCAA Heavyweight Champion (2000) can take any one down that I have seen in MMA. If there is a man out there that can keep his feet for extended periods of time against Lesnar then I definitely want to see that man compete.

On the St. Pierre vs. Fitch fight:

Jon Fitch deserves a bonus for his courage and his will to compete in a losing effort against Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Demonstrating that I would be a poor referee in this game, I might have stopped the fight early which would not have been the thing to do as things worked out.

St. Pierre dominated and won the 5 round unanimous decision but as impressive as GSP was one still has to marvel at the toughness of Fitch. Plus, Fitch is the type of athlete who learns from the experience and who redeems one’s self the next time in the Octagon.

On a potential rematch between St. Pierre and B.J. Penn:

Yeah, I want to see B.J. (Penn) vs. St. Pierre as there is the smell of serious money in this matchup. This will probably be a Vegas fight but how great would the atmosphere be to return to Montreal or to have the fight in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu?

On Demian Maia:

Demian Maia is a bad dude and is going to be special or perhaps I should say more special as time goes on. Maia’s got it all. Plus, I enjoyed watching him put on his sponsor laden T shirt in record time after his fight. It was a “Tap Out” shirt for the record so the advertising must have worked.

Ross doesn’t stop there. He has a lot more in his writeup of the event, which you can read by clicking here.

  • Jay says:

    lol @ “b.j. noons”!

  • Kuch says:

    That’s not the first time Ross has mentioned the need for a third commentator. I wonder if he is trying to create a job opening for himself. He would probably be the man for it if he hadn’t been involved in a “fake” sport for most of his life up to this point.

  • Ryder Die says:

    Jim Ross is cool and I agree with all the comment he made. Especially the comment about Maia. He will be effective and work close to a title shot. I hpe that he is in the UFC 09 Undisputed video game.

  • Gary says:

    BJ Noons? That is how he has it on his website. Hard to take seriously when he cannot get the fighter’s name right.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Ross says he’s not an MMA expert. He’s a casual viewer that happens to have a background in television production. If you’re looking to him for hardcore analysis, he’s not the guy and he basically lays that out at the beginning of his article. But if you’re interested in how an outsider educated in television perceives the UFC, his writeup is very interesting.

  • Wess says:

    Great insight

  • Jay K. says:

    “Yeah, I want to see B.J. Noons vs. St. Pierre as there is the smell of serious money in this matchup”


    I’ll forgive Jim Ross as I’ve enjoyed watching him call fights forever. Free Pass.

    Jay K.

  • I thought that the post fight interview with GSP was cut short and that the production ended rather quickly on Saturday. It was almost like they were in a hurry to shut down the show.

  • Eburg T says:

    Sam, I think you’re missing the boat on this one. I care about what some WWE commentator says about the UFC like I care about what Guttenburg would say about my laser printer.

    I deny, wholesale, the contention that MMA sprung from pro wrestling, or that the sport has anything to learn from the pro wrestling model. MMA has its roots in BJJ, vale tudo, Pancrase (Japanese), and Pankration (ancient Greece). Pro wrestling, frankly, has fuck-all to do with it. Thinly veiled homo-erotic soap operas have no correlation to MMA.

    If Mr. Ross cares to remark on the event on 5OP, he should be in the comments section, with the rest of us.

  • Ross is basically saying…. UFC is making good money, so do we need to pay for the commercials?
    UFC could have easily show a few more fights if they cut out all the B.S.

    I also agree that a CHAMPION like GSP should get as much time as he wants to speak. Even if no one can understand what he is saying.

    Brock made and ASS out of himself trying to ride Heath like a horse after the fight. I love me some heat but that was tasteless. Huerta turning his head to the crowd after getting caught by KenFlo that was GOOD HEAT!

  • Smokes says:

    Ross knows whats up, he just stated everything a fan is wanting from the UFC. Less commercials, stop playing the pre fight crap 30 times over, please don’t waste time selling PPV’s during the fights and give Goldberg less to say. The guy knows whats up and is speaking like a true MMA fan whether or not he’s hardcore.

  • Evan says:

    I really like this Sam…please keep bringing it back. It’s a unique point of view and I like the way he presents himself. I really like hearing the point of view from someone who is learning the sport as he goes like the rest of us fans from someone who most likely used to not like MMA.

    I’m not sure what I think about his 3rd person suggestion…I remember when they used to have some girl do post fight interview’s and all she would basically ask is “how does it feel to win?” and really hurt the show. So what I am saying is if they bring in a 3rd person it must be done right and a lot of thought needs to be put into it.

  • Nick Travaglini says:

    @ Calgary MLS- The UFC only has the pay-per-view block from 10-1am. Its a 3 hour block. unlike network television, they do not have the option to run over a few minutes. The feed will literally cut off dead. At the time of GSP getting interviewed by Joe Rogan, it was 12:59am. They stilll need to sign off and show final credits. The reason why they were running close to the end was because they decided to squeeze one more fight into the telecast and show the Kongo-Evenson fight. I for one love that they showed an extra fight, even though it was not the most exciting one. I will take a cut-short post-fight interview for an extra fight every time. I thank the UFC.

  • Levi says:

    My favorite: “Demonstrating that I would be a poor referee in this game, I might have stopped the fight early which would not have been the thing to do as things worked out.”

    I can just imagine good ol’ JR sitting in a lazyboy shouting at the TV: “STOP THE DAMN MATCH!”

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Eburg, I’m not missing any point. If you don’t care about Ross’ thoughts, that is understandable. But it is impossible for us to write posts that are going to appeal to everyone all of the time. We have a very large audience at 5 Oz. You might not care about his thoughts, but the page views for the previous post I did on his analysis was one of our most viewed for the month. The only thing I can tell you in the event there is a post you don’t care for is to simply gloss over it and read one of the posts that does catch your interest.

  • Nate says:

    I really enjoyed reading the perspective of someone with experience like he has. Thanks

  • MickDawg says:

    @ Eburg T on August 11th, 2008 10:56 am

    Unnecessary hatred coming from you.

    People DO care about what JR says.

    If you don’t care for his analysis in the fights…fine.

    But his other input is great, being that he knows a shitload more than any of us on commentary and TV production.

  • Rich B says:

    The reason that most of Ross’ points are relevant and appropriate to be here aren’t because of his MMA knowledge, but because of his live television production knowledge. Other than professional baseball announcers, there aren’t a hell of a lot of people who have broadcast more live (faux) sporting events than Ross has.

  • Chris Lyons says:

    I can apprreciate Jim Ross’s comments. Keep them comming.

  • dbess5 says:

    How long before Ross starts announcing for a MMA org?

  • Ronin says:

    Actually like to see Goldberg fired and Ross as the new announcer.
    Goldberg has done over 110 UFC events and still dumb as heck.
    Ross new to the sport seems to know what actually going on around him unlike the brain dead Goldberg.

  • Jim says:

    Didn’t Herring say some stuff about riding the bull (big dumb bull, I seem to remember) in a pre-fight interview? I think it was a response to cowboy Herrings derrogotory comments about Lesnars fighting acumen – or did I hear that wrong

  • JJ Docker says:

    I would hazard a guess that a lot of people that were into pro wrestling when they were younger, i.e. me, went on to become MMA fans. After all wrestlings biggest draw to male demo of 18 – 35 was that it was the closest thing you could get to violence, choreographed or not, on TV. I’m not saying every wrestling fan likes MMA and I definately wouldn’t apply the theory vice versa, but I think the reason I originally found the UFC so compelling back in ’94 was because it was WWF but, like, “real”. Although what JR commentates on might be “Thinly veiled homo-erotic soap operas” he has a massive and truly legit amount of experience in live TV production, show structure and most importantly what fans like and don’t like. This is why many MMA fans and readers of this site find JR’s input fascinating. This is why he should’nt “be in the comments section, with the rest of us.” This is why you should continue to post JR’s pieces.

    And anyway, it’s not as if anyone is forced to to come to this site. If you don’t find an article interesting, don’t read it.

  • Eburg T says:

    JJ and Mick, not trying to hate and haven’t read anything to change my mind. Suffice to say, if this blog is aimed at MMA fans who came over from Pro Wrestling I won’t be here long.

  • Eburg T says:

    Sam, was trying to constructively offer feedback, with reasons for my thought process. I fear that if when your readers say, “I don’t care so much about this particular one,” your response is, “then don’t read it,” you may find them reading fewer and fewer posts.

    Obviously if I’m outvoted and you’re getting mondo hits, fair enough. I am the voice of one, crying in the wilderness. Take it with a grain of salt.

  • TheSomberlain says:

    HAHAHAHAHA great comment man. Fire Goldberg? What are you nuts?! Goldie is awesome, if anyone Joe Rogan needs to go.

    Great Joe Rogan quote: “If I see another Affliction shirt I’m gonna throw up”. Real mature Rogan, real mature.

  • I think most of you are missing his point about the 3rd announcer. He is saying the UFC needs a voice person to present ads/fighters and give everyone a break from Goldberg.

    I like his technical analysis of the production. UFC should listen.

  • sven says:

    While I never could stand his on air persona I always respected JR for all he does behind the scenes with the WWE. a very smart man and I dont really disagree with anything he said.

  • Warcry says:

    I agree with the wrestling fans becoming MMA fans comment. I myself am one. When I grew tired of the non-sense of wrestling( fake moves, melodramactic storylines, insane build up) The Ufc and MMa came to my fight thirsty rescue. I would like to see a 3rd person on the telecast. Let it be someone who can get the corners perspective during rounds and give us more insight into the mindset of the competing fighters. It would be cool. Another point good ole “JR’ made was the pre-fight build-up is weak and repetitive give me some new and fresh info or perspective on the matchups. The Ufc is going with the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but you can also run the risk of becoming stunted and stale.

  • Sandy says:

    Goldbergs a tool, if I hear him say “ya” and stare at Joe Rogan again im going to flip

  • DamonO says:

    I agree with most that was said but I have a few things to point out that maybe Jim Ross didn’t see.

    “Condom Depot dot com. Exactly. That was one of the primary sponsors for fighter Rob Emerson Saturday night. Amazing.”

    That’s kind of how sponsorships work. You see….they give you money and you advertise for them. Get over the fact that it’s Condom Depot! I personally prefer to use a condom and should hope that all of society uses them. We need more advertising for condoms! Condom’s help prevent STD’s and unplanned pregnancies.

    “Yeah, I want to see B.J. Noons vs. St. Pierre as there is the smell of serious money in this matchup.”

    Do I really need to say anything? Or did you mean KJ Penn?

    “The broadcasters having to sell live event tickets during the action of the final two matches was distracting.”

    People are actually watching the action and may be listening at this point in time as well. I say it’s a perfect time to sell tickets. A better opportunity to sell than when I’m fast forwarding to get to the next fight.

    “Post match interviews on these events are often times a train wreck.”

    What do you expect? The fighters are often gassed and some of them don’t even speak english. You’re only limited to so many corner men and not all of them are translators.

  • jdavis says:

    Ross may not be an expert on MMA but his broadcast credentials are impressive, he knows what he is talking about. I don’t always agree with what he thinks about the actual fights but there are few people with more experience in how to present a compelling PPV experience. It would be nice if the UFC listened to what he says about PPV flow and organization.

    Eburg T you seem to be in denial of pro wrestling’s influence on MMA, there is nothing wrong with disliking pro wrestling but you really need to accept that MMA has a lot of root connections to pro wrestling. Your dislike and denial can’t change the facts, heck you yourself mentioned Pancrase from Japan, a company founded by two professional wrestlers and based on professional wrestling. Pro Wrestling’s influence on Pride has also been well documented, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean that those connections don’t exist.

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    Seriously… what major Japanese MMA organization WASN’T started by a pro wrestler?

    You’ve got Pancrase? Check. Shooto? Check. RINGS? Check. Pride? Check.

  • Michaelthebox says:

    ““Post match interviews on these events are often times a train wreck.”

    What do you expect? The fighters are often gassed and some of them don’t even speak english. You’re only limited to so many corner men and not all of them are translators.”

    He expects them to find a better way to do it. I agree, personally, there are a lot of ways they could handle it better, though it will take a little time and investment. But I expect the post-fight interviews to improve drastically over the next year.

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    “He expects them to find a better way to do it. I agree, personally, there are a lot of ways they could handle it better, though it will take a little time and investment. But I expect the post-fight interviews to improve drastically over the next year.”

    How about old Joe Rogan-style interviews backstage inbetween fights after the fighter has a chance to compose themselves? Talking points could be discussed beforehand and hell, they could even do several takes and show the best one.

    I still think, though, that fighters should have at least a minute or so to thank their trainers and sponsors and/or call someone out a la Penn at 84.

  • Boston Blackie says:

    JR knows who BJ Penn is, for God’s sake. He said BJ Noons. Big Deal. He also acknowledged BJ was from Hawaii. How does he not know who BJ is by looking at him, but knows where he’s from?

    Probably not the first time somebody has typed the wrong name. I wouldn’t doubt there’s an MMA hardcore fan who has written Thiago Alves when they meant to write Thiago Silva.

    Regarding his remarks about Mike Goldberg’s event shilling, the sponsor banners, etc, I thought they were spot on.

  • skwirrl says:

    Eburg T

    I’m not even a pro wrestling fan, but if you’re too blind to see the connection between pro wrestling and MMA you’re just as much a TUF noob as somebody that thought Kendall Grove was a world beater and Batista is the next guy thats gonna challenge Lesner. As said above pretty much all above me Japanese MMA is founded by Japanese pro wrestlers, who were often skilled fighters to boot. The biggest fight in PRIDE history, (outside of Fedor vs Mirko), was Rickson Gracie vs Nobuhiko Takada, (General Director of PRIDE, Founder of Hustle Pro Wrestling and a famous Japanese pro wrestler himself), at PRIDE 1. So if it gets your noob panties in a bunch cause they interview somebody that appeals to a large base of the MMA fans, and myself because of Ross’ vast television broadcast experience, GTFOGDNOOB

  • skwirrl says:

    By the way… One of the arts that kicks ass in MMA is called Catch Wrestling. Watch a Josh Barnett fight sometime.

  • Johnny Lawrence says:

    And whoever thought up that % thing that Goldberg kept using, it was annoying as hell. This isn’t baseball, I could care less what GSP’s takedown ratio is.

  • Warcry says:

    JL I kinda like the stat they decided to add to the PPV. I wish there were a few more graphics to enhance the fights. I never knew that nobody had passed Fitch’s guard before that makes you anticipate if it is going to happen. We all knew that Gsp has stud wrestling skills, but 80% takedown rate……Fuck!! That means everytime he gets his hands on you you’re going down. Stats help quantify the skills of these fighters. I don’t want them to go stat crazy, but don’t shy away from it either.

  • Cathedron says:

    I care quite a bit what GSP’s takedown ratio is. Some of us hxc fans like the stats, just like some baseball fans like the stats when they watch a game. I mean, if I’m watching a baseball game, I don’t give a shit about stats, but most of my friends do. When we watch MMA, they don’t give a shit about stats, but I do. Give the fans what they want. You don’t like it? Do what the majority of people watching sports do, ignore the stats and focus on the action.

    I appreciate JR’s perspective. The UFC could stand to improve their formula a little more. They seem to be making gradual improvements at a steady pace lately, at least. But hey, even the major sports don’t always have good presentation. I think it was Fox who had the bright idea to make ever graphic look mechanical and have sound effects right down to having robots kicking feild goals when they went to commercial. The UFC can’t afford to look that lame while they’re still growing…

  • BJJ in VA says:

    One cannot bitch about Jim Ross or Mike Goldberg when there is still a Mauro Renallo still alive and (God help us) announcing. There is nothing worse than listening to Renallo try to relate to a MMA fan.

    (shivers uncontrollably)

  • Eburg T says:

    Abner Doubleday was a Union general in the civil war. Does baseball have its roots in war?

    While several Japanese orgs were founded by pro wrestlers, few pro wrestlers have made a successful transition from pro wrestling to MMA. For the most part, modern-day MMA more closely resembles a combination Muay Thai-Folk Wrestling-BJJ match.

    True, many fighters in Japan have gone back and forth (Barnett, Randleman, Sapp), but correlation does not equal causation.

    Modern MMA does not have its roots in pro wrestling.

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    Eburg, no one is using the term “roots” but you.

    No one is saying that one day back in 1914 a bunch of pro wrestlers got together and said, “Hey, let’s do this shit but FOR REAL!” and that’s how MMA started.

    But to deny the very obvious connection between the two sports (more subtle in the US than in Japan, I’ll give you that) is crazy.

  • Eburg T says:

    Sergio, at best one could say that MMA’s promotional model may have borrowed heavily from pro wrestling, but I think you’d be hard pressed to say that’s been a good thing for fighters, the sport, or anyone who doesn’t have the last name “White” or “Fertitta.”

    As for the sport itself, I still say it has nothing to do with pro wrestling.

  • Sergio G. Hernandez says:

    The models are totally different.

    Wrestling has always been some form of traveling circus. Decades ago, only the big draws, your bearded ladies and crab boys and liontamers, traveled from city to city but now the entire big top goes from city to city.

    The UFC, at least Zuffa-era UFC, firmly established themselves in Las Vegas before heading out. And when they did, they tested the waters and did one show here or one show there before heading back to Sin City. Even now as more and more shows are happening in Jersey, California, Minnesota, Illinois, etc, Vegas is still very much their home.

    And I actually had another paragraph defending their connection when I came to the realization that pro wrestling sprang from MMA or rather, real fighting.

    I mean, think about it… fighting is the oldest form of competition known to man. Cavemen were fighting it out before they could speak. Eventually someone got the idea to script a fight with emphasis on the drama and somehow make money of it.

  • Eburg T says:

    The promotional model more closely resembles pro wrestling than the other comparison candidate, boxing.

  • doribello5 says:

    Isn’t the post fight interview in the octagon supposed to be kind of crazy anyway?

    I thought the post fight press conference interviews were where it’s at. Besides, if we give the fans everything they need all on the Pay Per View show then why would people get on here on the internet on sites like fiveounces and check for more information?

    There’s a time and a place for everything.

  • jdavis says:

    Several MMA stars use Catch Wrestling as their style and/or crossed over from pro wrestling to MMA (Sakuraba or Josh Barnett are good examples of pro wrestler cross over success). So there is a definite link between MMA and pro wrestling through classic Catch Wrestling.

    Japanese organizations were not only started by pro wrestlers but they also took a lot from pro wresting into their organizations. Shoot wrestling was the foundation that they were based on, the whole idea of “what if we did pro wrestling for real”. When Pancrase started they used a version of pro wrestling rules even. Heck in Japan where there isn’t a cultural stigma against pro wrestling the two still cross over each other all the time.

    For the same reason many pro wrestling fans crossed over to MMA, they got tired of the “fake fighting” and wanted to see what it would be like if the guys were doing it for real. Yes MMA is really a mixture of many martial arts but then people have been faking that mixture of martial arts in pro wrestling too. MMA is what pro wrestling would of been if it hadn’t of gone the way of predetermined outcomes and showboating all those decades ago.

    The business models between pro wrestling and MMA are similar in a lot of ways, which is understandable as so many organizations and promoters came out of that system(particularly in Japan) but there are also a lot of differences too. For one MMA fighters don’t have to work on the road 300+ days a year or fight three times a week. The productions of MMA and pro wrestling also have a lot of similarities although the UFC has went away from many of the frills and cheap affects that pro wrestling seems to live for. Still a WWE ppv and a UFC ppv are both going to have a lot of similarities, which only makes sense seeing as they are both catering to the same basic age demographics and overlapping fan base.

    So there is a MMA link to the skills department of pro wrestling through catch wrestling, there is a link to the history of MMA and it’s development and between wrestling fans and MMA fans and there is a business link that could be drawn too. The question is where isn’t there a link between pro wrestling and MMA?

    Of course all that is pretty irrelevant as to why veteran commentator Jim Ross has some insight into how UFC ppvs should be organized being as working ppvs is what he’s been doing for the last 20 years. Ross wasn’t bringing any pro wrestling knowledge over into his column he was bringing his thoughts as a fan and his experience working successful ppv events. Your hating of pro wrestling is pretty irrelevant as to why his column had interest and value as a article here, the guy is a expert at announcing and the PPV business.

  • ChrisC says:

    great posts, jdavis. very insightful, informative and to the point. You make reading the whole comment section worth the time. It was worth shifting through some nonsense fanboy crap.

    Anyway, I totally agree with you guys about JR’s credentials. He wasn’t steppin’ over the line, he was simply offering us his expertise on production values and PPV business.

  • HexRei says:

    “Boston Blackie on August 11th, 2008 4:58 pm

    JR knows who BJ Penn is, for God’s sake. He said BJ Noons. Big Deal. He also acknowledged BJ was from Hawaii. How does he not know who BJ is by looking at him, but knows where he’s from?”

    KJ Noons is also from Hawaii, so JR definitely could still have been confused about who he was talking about.

  • HexRei says:

    jdavis, if you’re suggesting that because Pro Wrestling in JAPAN is linked to MMA, that somehow proves that Pro Wrestling in AMERICA is an ancestor of MMA… that’s just disingenuous. Pro wrestling in Japan is a very different beast, its common there for pro wrestlers to compete in actual combat sports train real fight skills. its a different culture than American pro wrestling as I think you well know.

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