As he approaches his 30th career fight with the UFC, Matt Brown has heard plenty of voices call his fights over the years.
From the days of the two-man team featuring Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan to the revolving group of fighters now sitting behind the microphone from week-to-week, the veteran welterweight is very familiar with the people doing commentary on his performances, but unlike some athletes, he never really finds a reason to be offended by what’s being said about him.
In fact, Brown says he almost always goes back to watch his fights and most times he’ll learn something from the commentary team calling the action.
“I absolutely do [watch the fights with commentary] and when I watch the fights a lot of the time, the commentators will give you a little bit of insight, maybe what you were doing wrong, things that you could have done, especially [Daniel] Cormier in particular is very critical, I think at least from my experience watching my own fights,” Brown said on the latest episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer. “He’s very critical of the techniques you’re using or things you could be doing or should be doing.
“Maybe some people would take that defensively. I take it as a positive. I can learn from it and grow from it and use it. I look at it as Cormier’s coaching me right now. That’s things I could be doing better.”
Daniel Cormier has become a fixture on UFC broadcasts over the past few years, especially now that he’s typically the third man in the booth alongside Rogan and play-by-play man Jon Anik for all of the major pay-per-view broadcasts.
His name came up more recently surrounding the return of Jon Jones as he prepares to make his heavyweight debut against Ciryl Gane at UFC 285.
It’s well documented that Cormier and Jones engaged in one of the most heated rivalries in the history of the sport but would that actually carry over to the way the fights are being called? Well Jones was quick to dispel the notion that Cormier shouldn’t call his fights while going as far as praising his former opponent and adding “I think you are really good at what you do.”
Of course, Cormier isn’t the first fighter doing commentary to face criticism over perceived bias during an event but Brown defends the former two-division UFC champion along with every other athlete doing an impossibly tough job hat requires them to be critical at times.
“There have been other times where guys have commented and I think that they just didn’t understand what I was doing,” Brown explained. “They just didn’t understand what I was doing and why I was doing what I was doing. That can certainly bother you if you let it but I also understand they have a hard job.
“Like I’ve commentated before on smaller, regional shows. It’s f******* hard. You’re sitting there for three, four hours and talking about all these fights. Sometimes you’ve just got to say s***. Sometimes you’ve just got a thought and you’ve got to find things to talk about the whole time. I do have sympathy for them on that part.”
In his own career, Brown says there was only one moment where he took issue with the commentary during his fights but even that didn’t really enrage him or make him feel like the broadcast team was somehow against him.
“There was only one time when I really didn’t like the commentary — it was when I was fighting Dhiego Lima and Michael Bisping was commentating,” Brown said. “He was talking about some of the bad things that I was doing. Kind of what I was saying before, I think he just didn’t understand what I was doing. The one thing I would like commentators to realize is there’s no right way to do things. There’s your way, my way, everybody’s going to be a little bit biased towards the way they were taught.
“I’m sympathetic towards what they are doing and Bisping is great at what he does. It’s a hard job.”
While ex-fighters make up the majority of the broadcast teams these days in the UFC, Brown still considers Rogan as the gold standard for commentary, although he definitely appreciates what every voice brings to the broadcasts.
“Joe Rogan is probably the best of all-time and he’s good at saying what they’re doing without sounding critical,” Brown said. “He’s just very good at wording things without sounding critical. Other guys aren’t. Bisping is a critical guy, that’s just who he is. That’s his personality.
“I’ve done it on regional shows. Sometimes you watch a fight and a guy is doing something and you just can’t figure out why he’s doing it and you’re like this dude just f****** sucks. They may be feeling that in their head but I’ve never taken it as [malicious] or as a slight against me.”
According to Brown, he still puts Rogan at the top of his list for commentators but he has also enjoyed one of the newest team members who started calling fights for the UFC just a few weeks ago.
“I think [Laura Sanko] adds a great dimension to it,” Brown said. “Again, I think everything she says, at least from my experience listening to her, has been very valuable and very well spoken and very clear.
“I think she does a tremendous job. Just like I said on Twitter, she may not be there yet but I think she’ll be the best commentator since Joe Rogan.”
New episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer with Matt Brown and Damon Martin drop every Tuesday. Find audio-only versions of the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Stitcher