Ahead of his bantamweight bout with Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269 this Saturday, Cruz was asked at media day to assess the skills of his fellow commentators and criticized Cormier for a lack of preparation while praising play-by-play man Jon Anik.
“Anik, to me, I watch Anik do so much homework leading up to a fight,” Cruz said. “People have no idea how much homework he has to do to be prepared for that. The most kudos for me really goes to him. He leads us in the broadcast with how he talks.
“When it comes to ‘DC,’ I usually mute it. I love DC, he’s my friend, but to me, from my experience, he doesn’t do the homework. He wants to get in and out, get the job done, make his money, and I think he cares about us but it’s just different. He doesn’t do the preparation from my experience. He might now, I’m hoping he watches some film this time on me so he knows what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, but I’m not gonna hold my breath on that, that’s for sure.”
Cormier, a former two-division UFC champion, has received both positive and negative reviews for his commentary work, with supporters pointing to his enthusiasm and in-cage experience and detractors criticizing him for a lack of preparation as Cruz suggests and also a lack of knowledge when it comes to scoring bouts.
While Cruz is quick to give his honest opinion of DC’s on-air talents, he also acknowledged the difficulty of the job and that he himself is constantly working on improving.
“Honestly, I’m never perfect, so there’s a roster of, I don’t know, what, 400, 600 fighters and not everybody’s gonna agree with what I say either,” Cruz said. “So it’s all perspective in there. DC is a gifted athlete and I think [Michael] Bisping does a lot of homework. I think he watches a lot of film and I think there’s certain people that watch the film and I count that because I do the film study.
“The reason I do the film study is it’s bigger than me. I’m not in there talking to hear myself talk and to be right, I’m in there to support the athletes and talk about why they’re great and what makes them great, and in order to do that I need to watch film. I need to see what they do against different styles and how they match up and what creates the openings that they create in those fights and why. I really don’t call or text any of them because they’re just doing their job. They’re seeing it how they see it, it’s their interpretation, it doesn’t make it fact, and I know they’re doing the best they can honestly. I know I do the best I can and I’m not always perfect.”
In addition to working with Anik, Cormier, and Bisping, Cruz has regularly shared the desk with longtime color man Joe Rogan. Though Rogan only works UFC pay-per-views, he remains one of MMA’s most popular figures both due to his commentary work and his podcast, and Cruz considers Rogan to be an essential part of the UFC viewing experience.
Cruz specifically pointed to Rogan being able to work with less of a filter due to his experience as a comedian. He also had plenty of nice things to say about his other broadcast partners — even Cormier.
“The sport itself, yes, we may know more because we’ve been in there, but Joe Rogan brings a special quality,” Cruz said. “I hope he does this next to me forever, to be honest. I really do. I love working with him, I love him as a human being and what he stands for right now, especially in this day and age, he’s a powerful human being. Anik, same. I want to work with Anik for the rest of this. If he quits, I say, ‘I will slap you if you quit. I need you. Don’t you dare.’
“Me and Bisping, do I really need to touch on that? That’s back and forth. He’s just fun. He’s my friend. I’ll never forget Bisping came to one of my — I lost one of my fights and he came to my afterparty and he partied with me all night. I’ll forever have a space in my heart with Bisping whether people know it or not, I love that guy. DC, again, we go back and forth and we bicker like brothers because he’s like my brother to me. I just love him, too. I just need him to watch some film.”