One of the most notable and often-used figures in the UFC's broadcasting stable is Jon Anik, a man UFC hired from ESPN in 2011 to help fill broadcasting roles for the UFC's expanding schedule and program offerings. Anik's hiring was announced at the UFC 137 pre-fight press conference and was to be a three-year deal.
Three years have come and gone, but Anik isn't going anywhere.
"I am sticking around," he told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "I've signed an extension with the UFC. Hopefully they'll sign it and mail it back to me pretty soon. Anyone who knows me knows that this is the job I've wanted for a long time. The bottom line, Ariel, I'm not a lifelong martial artist, but that doesn't change that this is my passion, that this is my favorite sport and that this is what I want to do with my life."
Once the host of ESPN's MMA Live, among myriad other duties including weekly live chats on ESPN.com, Anik now hosts pre- and post-fight programs, preview specials with UFC fighters and serves as the play-by-play broadcaster for shows ranging from pay-per-view to Fight Pass. Anik says in the last three years, he's gotten everything he wanted and his new deal will allow him to continue with those projects among others.
"I left ESPN honestly hoping to do this job for 20, 25 years. I guess signing an extension here is a big moment for me and hopefully the second of many contracts with the UFC."
As for the terms of the deal, Anik wouldn't reveal much, but noted he's happy with it both on its terms and what it means for his expectations.
"No, this is not a Chris Fowler, 10-year, $35 million dollar deal either, but it's a longer term, certainly longer than two years, which I think sometimes can be a standard contract in the broadcasting world," he explained. "It'll be pretty much a similar role. I'll probably do 20 to 22 live events per year. I imagine Ultimate Insider will continue to be part of it in some capacity. I continue to campaign for them to bring The Ultimate Fighter back to a live format, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen."
The future is unwritten, but Anik's past three years at the UFC have been filled with memorable fights. In fact, there's one that stands above the rest.
"Doing The Ultimate Fighter: Live was the most fun I've ever had in television, but I guess I would say the moment was that Mark Hunt-Bigfoot Silva last December. Not unlike your recent experience in Dublin, you sort of have this moment in the middle of the night or the fight and you say, 'I wonder what the rest of the sports world is doing right now if they're not watching this or experiencing this live in person.'
"That's the way Kenny Florian and I felt when we were calling that Hunt-Bigfoot fight. It was just like, 'Man, I hope these casual MMA fans are finding their way to a television right now' or, in your instance, being able to experience the electricity in Dublin."
Except for the post-fight issues related to Silva's over use of testosterone that marred the contest, few would deny the fight itself was great. But Anik has been a part of more than just big fights. He's been there for many key moments or events at a time when the UFC is changing, growing and becoming something different than what it was when he first signed on.
Anik acknowledged as much, but said while big 'events' or other key moments matter, he's a fan of the fighters and the contests they put on for the fans. For him, being a part of the August 2013 launch of Fox Sports 1 in Boston was a thrill, but that itself doesn't personally match what one fight on one night can mean.
"That was a big moment for sure and getting to work with Joe Rogan for a second time was obviously great," Anik said of that night. "That was really the most anxious I've been in three years. I was more nervous for that Boston show and network debut than I was for the first fight that I called in Nashville when we did that one on FX with Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller. I was really amped up for that Boston show, obviously my hometown, but I guess for me, my answer sort of comes back to the fights. As great as that night was in Boston, it's ultimately about the fights. As great as that moment was for Chael Sonnen in the main event or Conor McGregor, Uriah Hall, John Howard, to me, when I'm asked that question, it always comes back to the fighters and the fights."