Earlier this week, Cyborg claimed ‘for sure’ that color commentator Joe Rogan was in collusion with the UFC to downplay her performance. Her opponent Felicia Spencer was definitely credited for showing incredible toughness throughout the three round battle but in the end Cyborg still won a lopsided unanimous decision victory.
On Friday, UFC play-by-play commentator Jon Anik responded to those claims from Cyborg and others that the broadcast team was biased against the former featherweight champion during her fight.
“I have heard the criticism about the commentary in the Cris Cyborg-Felicia Spencer fight and felt the need to address it publicly, as we consider all feedback seriously,” Anik wrote. “In this instance, I would respectfully disagree with those who suggest there was any bias or lack of objectivity. We repeatedly gave Cyborg credit or her striking and execution. I even suggested she deserved at 10-8 margin in round 3.
“That said, a big part of the narrative in the fight was Spencer. Sure she lost all three rounds but she deserved credit for her ability to absorb punishment and keep pressing forward, her ability to rise to the occasion in just her eighth pro fight against an all-time great like Cyborg. Many fighters would have crumbled under that Cyborg pressure and she did not. Thus she was given credit on the broadcast.”
The most notable statement that Anik refuted was that the UFC directs the commentary team to speak for or against any fighter competing on a card.
As much as it may seem that one commentator or an entire team is paying homage to one fighter over another, Anik says the UFC has never given him on the narrative he should or should not be pushing during a broadcast.
“But the notion that there is some promotional initiative to push one fighter over another is patently false and absurd,” Anik said. “I have called 140-plus shows for the UFC. Never once have I been given a directive like this.
“Personally, I have always had a great relationship with Cyborg and I hope Cris will read this and understand it is said with 100-percent veracity. I am hopefully she will re-sign with the UFC and get the rematch with Amanda Nunes.”
Cyborg has been very vocal in the days following her fight against Spencer as she prepares to enter a period of free agency after finishing out her most recent contract with the UFC.
While UFC officials have said publicly that they hope to sign Cyborg to a new deal, the deteriorating relationship between the promotion and the fighter doesn’t seem to give much hope that she will be returning to the Octagon for another fight.