Finally! Mike Goldberg Speaks on UFC Departure
If Mike Goldberg's UFC departure struck you as a bit abrupt, you weren't the only one.
"It was a shock," Goldberg said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast with host Ariel Helwani. "It was a shock. I was speechless. I didn't know what type of emotion to have because I was just in a state of shock and disbelief."
The news leaked in December that UFC 207, held on December 30, would be Goldberg's last as the UFC's play-by-play man—a position he held since 1997 and throughout the entire Zuffa ownership era.
Though he had a long tenure that earned him plenty of fans, Goldberg was still a frequent magnet (NSFW language) for criticism for what detractors viewed as a tendency to make simple mistakes and engage in UFC cheerleading.
It is unknown whether that or some other reason contributed to Goldberg's release, which came at the hands of the UFC's new owners, Hollywood superagency WME-IMG. Speaking Monday, Goldberg said he had "no conversation" with the owners about his ouster and had been given no indications as to the reasons behind it.
Goldberg said specifically that he had not heard from UFC president Dana White.
"No conversation, no contact, nothing," Goldberg said.
While attempting to remain diplomatic, Goldberg did suggest that he was upset by the firing.
"It took 15 years to build this wonderful family, and it felt like it took 15 minutes to destroy it," Goldberg said. "I love the UFC brand, and I represented it in the way that I was asked to for two decades. ...It was somewhat of a bummer to say the least."
After Goldberg's final telecast, which did not include any on-air sendoff for Goldberg or words of good-bye from Goldberg himself, family members and fans expressed frustration on his behalf, saying he deserved better after his years of service. But on Monday, Goldberg said the outpouring of fan appreciation helped to soothe any hurt feelings.
"Now that I've stepped back, I'm kind of glad they didn't, because what turned out to be the tribute was everything that we've talked about and everything that I've read and that's been posted all over the world for the past month," Goldberg said. "And you want to talk about a tribute? That's the most powerful tribute that I could ever ask for."
Goldberg added that, despite his shock, he attempted to be a professional in the final weeks of his UFC employment.
"Character is what is revealed in times of adversity, and that's what drove me," Goldberg said. "The most important thing to me as a professional was to do the best I could do on every single broadcast. To not alter my studies in any way possible. To not alter the timeline of my voiceovers and when they were due in production. To not change anything."
Goldberg did not give any indications as to what might be next for him. He has covered several other sports, including the NBA and NHL. In 2014, Goldberg tried his hand at NFL play-by-play for Fox Sports, but the effort ended in disaster after just one game.
Speaking on Monday, Goldberg gave some insight into what he thinks drove fan appreciation for him and broadcast partner Joe Rogan, who is still calling fights for the UFC.
"People love that warm, fuzzy blanket...and that's what Joe and I were for a long time when it came to the UFC," Goldberg explained. "Everybody gets new blankets, and they get new furniture, but at the end of the day when you cuddle up on a Sunday and you watch football, that blanket on the corner of the couch, it's kind of smelly, but that blanket? That's the one you utilize...We don't like change."