"The fighters need avenues to fight. The UFC can only hold roughly over 200 fighters on their roster and there are way more than 200 fighters out there trying to get in the UFC. I don't care if your fighting in Strikeforce or any other organization, every single fighter out there would love to have that UFC belt wrapped around their waist. The UFC is the NFL in MMA. These other organizations provide avenues not only for the fighters to make money, but to get acclimated with the fans and also fight more. Success breeds competition and competition breeds success. I will go on record by saying this, it's absolutely impossible for anybody to overtake the UFC business-wise and it's been proven by the 50 million dollars that have been lost by two organizations in the past six years," stated the official voice of the Octagon, announcer Bruce Buffer, as he shared his thoughts on the success of the UFC compared to other organizations and much more. Check it out!
JA: Bruce, it was a special night when the UFC went to the Army base for the "UFC Fight For The Troops 2" event.
BB: It was an amazing experience. In my estimation, I've never seen any organization whether, it would be boxing, MMA or a televised fighting show, that would put up millions of dollar to produce a live event on a base. Dana White and the Fertitta brothers have done this promotion for the third time and it's truly rewarding. You have no citizens in the audience except for all Army and Marine personnel. They were so excited for us to be there and the rock star treatment that they gave us after all they do for us is overwhelming. It's a very emotional and exciting experience.
JA: How do you handle the emotional side of an event like this? You still have a job to do at the same time.
BB: I enjoy it. I've been announcing for over fifteen years and to see where the UFC has come to when you have a helicopter with Marines and Army personnel sitting on it's wings, along with the four thousand servicemen and women in the arena; this is where the UFC has gotten too with the admiration from the ever important 18-34 male and female demographic and from the troops. It's truly amazing.
JA: Do you know how much money was raised for the troops?
BB: No I don't. They may go public, but I'm not privy to those numbers. Those numbers are in the UFC office.
JA: You've been with the UFC for a long time Bruce. At what point did you realize that the UFC had made it to the popularity it has with the mainstream media today?
BB: The UFC really made it mainstream when you opened up your Sunday paper and it would be published in the major papers. The UFC was being publicized on the internet, on the message boards, and websites, but we never got local press. For instance, I would open up my LA Times paper and there would be no news about MMA. I would even open up the TV part of the paper and there would be no reference to MMA. When I started to see that mainstream media started to cover us, that's when I knew that was our big break in the United States. People try to create new avenues, but no one really knows if it's going to work until it works. So you have maverick pioneers like Dana White and the Fertitta brothers taking over a business in which the previous owner, Robert Meyrowitz, was brought to a level where he was almost pushed underground for a lack of not being able to get on TV. What kept this company alive was the internet and DirecTV, in my opinion. Then Dana came in and made a commitment with Zuffa and started spending a lot of money to get us to the point we are at today. The Stephan Bonner-Forrest Griffin fight, along with the Ultimate Fighter on Spike, which brought in millions of new viewers...now the mainstream papers are forced to pay attention to us with all of the profits the UFC is generating. One more thing I would like to add is in the 1950's, they made a lot of space movies. In the 1960's, space movies went away for a while until 1972 when a film by the name of Star Wars came out. Star Wars has become a billion dollar franchise and all of sudden, every producer in Hollywood wants to do a space movie. UFC had finally gone through the ups and downs and started gaining profitability along with exposure, so now everyone wants to make an MMA show and create an MMA promotional product. What you have is the UFC being the pioneer company setting the pace for everybody else.
JA: What do you think about all the other organizations, such as Strikeforce, trying to start up and be successful?
BB: The fighters need avenues to fight. The UFC can only hold roughly over 200 fighters on their roster and there are way more than 200 fighters out there trying to get in the UFC. I don't care if you're fighting in Strikeforce or any other organization, every single fighter out there would love to have that UFC belt wrapped around their waist. The UFC is the NFL in MMA. These other organizations provide avenues not only for the fighters to make money, but to get acclimated with the fans and also fight more. Success breeds competition and competition breeds success. I will go on record by saying this, it's absolutely impossible for anybody to overtake the UFC business-wise and it's been proven by the 50 million dollars that have been lost by two organizations in the past six years. Other organizations are realizing the amounts of money it takes to get to the level the UFC has. A lot of people are saying that the UFC doesn't pay their fighters well, but the UFC does pay their fighters very well. Do you want to know where a lot of the money goes? It's to promote the sport and to get the UFC sanctioned in the states that it hasn't already been sanctioned in, as well as other countries.
JA: My dad is an older generation man and he still has that feeling of the UFC being like UFC 1. Do you still encounter those people who still believe the UFC is like the UFC of old?
BB: It's rarer these days because with all of the publicity and with the mainstream news the UFC has been getting, they are forced to watch us and they know what we are about. It's rare being in the age group of 50 and below, but if you talk to someone who is in their 60's who loves boxing and doesn't read the press too often, it will come up. My answer to them is this. Have you ever watched a UFC event today? And most people will answer, "No, it's barbaric." How can you form an opinion when you only watched something one time? Then I ask them have you watched boxing and they answer, "Yes!" I tell them, "Then watch the UFC. It's a lot more excitement."
JA: How do you prepare yourself before the event, and even during the event, when you get ready to announce the fighters.
BB: I have a simple routine. I've announced thousands of fights, so I don't get nervous. I have so many business ventures going on during the week that when I get to go to a UFC event, its like a boy scout going camping. It's definitely work with the traveling, coordination, and for the performance; absolutely it's all work. My routine is simple. I have a power breakfast in the morning, followed by a workout, some meditation, then get my head together to go to the arena and feed off the energy from the fans who are attending the event. When I get in the Octagon, I never know what I'm going to do with the movements except for my basic announcing. I don't rehearse and that's what works for me.
JA: What's it like to work for Dana White?
BB: He's great. He's so busy that you're lucky to get two minutes with him. The fact of the matter is if they give you a job and you do it well, and you're loyal to the organization, the organization is loyal to you. We have a wonderful team and it all stems from the business maverick Dana White, along with Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who are at the top of the pyramid, and it's flowing down to the rest of us. From the cameraman to the people who put together the Octagon, it's a well oiled machine.
JA: Do you think the UFC will ever be in New York?
BB: Yes, and I can't wait to walk into Madison Square Garden. Just as I walk into my local arena, Staples Center, in Los Angeles, and the O2 Arena in London, these are pinnacle moments, not just in the UFC evolutionary process, but pinnacle moments in my career. It will be a pinnacle moment when I walk out and step in the Octagon in Madison Square Garden.
JA: What's your role with Michael Buffer's company?
BB: I'm Michael Buffer's manager, for around 18 years now, and we are partners in our company, which I manage all affairs and licensing surrounding the development of the "Let's get ready to Rumble" licensed product, plus the licensing and legal aspects of the phrase in films, commercials and other business avenues.
JA: Is it hard for you to go out there and put a stop to people who try to use the product?
BB: It's business. This is ours and if you take ours to promote your product to make a dollar, widget or a digit, you've made a big mistake without getting a license from us. I don't get out of my car holding my neck and saying my neck hurts looking to sue. All I want is for you to understand that you can't use it. If I think it's promotionally proper, I will give you a license, but you're going to give us what we would have obtained and that's just business. You work hard to get a trademark and if you don't protect your trademark, the government will take it away.
JA: I appreciate your time Bruce. Is there anything that you would like to say in closing?
BB: Everyone wants to know how to get a hold of me for promotional ventures, birthday messages, and appearances at shows. I have a radio show, "It's Time" radio. It's a lifestyles show where we talk about the UFC, Sex, drugs and Rock & Roll, and a lot more. www.bufferzone.net is where you can get a hold of me. Also, if you're in Las Vegas on February 4th, you can come to my own personal poker lounge at the Luxor Pyramid Hotel. We will be having a special poker tournament where there will be lots of people from the world of MMA, plus UFC fighters, and it starts at 6:30, Friday night. Just ask for the "Buffer Poker room" at the Luxor Hotel.