Mike Goldberg shares his “great moment of closure” with Dana White, after an unceremonious UFC withdrawal


Twenty-five years ago, UFC history was made.

Held on Dec. 21, 1997, UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan may be best remembered for the UFC debuts of MMA legends Kazushi Sakuraba and Frank Shamrock, but the event featured a special debut in the broadcast booth as well: Longtime UFC commentator Mike Goldberg. Goldberg, who replaced Bruce Beck as play-by-play announcer, launched a decade-long run for UFC Japan: Ultimate Japan. The pairing of Joe Rogan and him established themselves as UFC’s voice for new generations of fighters.

By the time he left in 2017, Goldberg’s many catchphrases had become synonymous with the UFC and his voice was the soundtrack to many of the sport’s most iconic moments. His exit, however, was not befitting of a man who had dedicated 20 years of service to the company. Following his final show at UFC 207, Goldberg was not given an opportunity to say goodbye to the audience. There was no sendoff tribute prepared by the UFC, nor even a mention of his departure on the broadcast. It was as if UFC 207 was any other event.

That callousness initially left Goldberg and his family both hurt and disappointed, however Goldberg said Wednesday on The MMA Hour that in the five years since, he has come to look back on his 20-year UFC tenure with much warmer feelings than he did in 2017.

“Blessed,” Goldberg stated on The MMA Hour ,, “and much more grateful than I may have been at the time.” Because I’m sure you can relate, I’m not the only one. When you are so busy and trying to learn, traveling, fighting the next bout, it’s hard to take a step back. You’re amongst those trees and you don’t step back and you don’t take that view at the forest. So, I was always blessed, honored and grateful. Of course I was. It is something I treasure now.

” I’m proud of the UFC experience,” Goldberg said. “It took me some time to look at the positives after the bittersweetness of the contract sale and non-renewal. But those things fade over time.” And you have fans hit you at different times and places, and fighters — like the podcast I just did with ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley, where he asked me to call a fight, and I do, and it pretty much goes viral. He loves me, and I have never called any of Sean’s fights. After I left, he came to UFC.

” I am grateful for all the things I’ve experienced in my life, as well as what my family and I can do because of Ultimate Fighting Championship. And so it’s nothing but respect, it’s nothing about well wishes, and it’s nothing but thankfulness, especially on a day like today. Did it take some time? Yes, that was true. It took some time for the sting to go away. But I was never unappreciative — I was just hurt. I was hurt. It was hard to believe that my gig was so great with such great people.

Goldberg has continued to find success outside of the UFC. He served as a play-by-play man for Bellator from 2017-21 and currently works in both boxing and bare-knuckle boxing.

He remains beloved by both fans and fighters who flocked to the sport during his time in the UFC’s broadcast booth, and that love was on full display earlier this month when top bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley asked Goldberg to commentate over a replay of O’Malley’s 2020 knockout win over Eddie Wineland. The clip went viral on a variety of social media platforms and even introduced Goldberg to a new generation of UFC fans.

Goldberg also had a chance to make amends with UFC president Dana White.

Back in 2017, Goldberg admitted to being surprised and disappointed to have not heard from or spoken to White at any point regarding the UFC’s decision to not renew his contract following its sale to WME-IMG for more than $4 billion. Luckily, both men had a second chance a few years ago in Las Vegas, and at the urging of Goldberg’s son, the veteran commentator took advantage of the opportunity. Now, he’s glad that he did.

“It was kind of crazy, because I would like to run that one back [from 2017],” Goldberg said. “Because the whole ‘Did Dana say anything [when I left],’ I mean, it was an awkward situation. [UFC producer] Craig Borsari’s performance was amazing. It was all there. The tears, the hugs and everything. I should have been the guy to be proactive and walk up and thank Dana, as I look back at it. That is what I should have done. It would have been better to say, “Dana, thanks.” Because business is business.

“And when I saw Dana about, I’m going to say probably about a year-and-a-half later — so this was after my departure — we were in Las Vegas, my son had a hockey tournament and I was coaching. The Fertitta connections were still used, and we were at Red Rock. And I walk out and I see Dana in the valet area with a couple of buddies and he’s getting into his car, he’s leaving probably after a dinner or a little bit of gambling as we know with the UFC president Dana White. My son Cole stares at me and says, “Dad! That’s Dana!” And I was shocked. It was hard to know what I should do.

“Do I say hello? Do I not? What do I do?” Goldberg continued. “And I’m usually a guy who’s got a pretty good instinct. My son was like, “Dad,” and he said to me, “God bless you.” I then shook my hand and said, “Thank you for everything. I hope you can keep in touch. It was, at least, a moment of closure. And like I said, I should’ve been the one to thank Dana and not waited and then have a little bit of negative come out of it. Dana White was a great person to me. I was a great friend to him and he supported me.

“He was the one who called me when I was going to go to the WWE and said, ‘Don’t go, we want you. Lorenzo Fertitta is Lorenzo’s man, and Lorenzo Fertitta was mine. It was an amazing moment, and I am so glad I went up to Dana or the Red Rock that night. It would have been a shame not to. And I’m glad I did because it turned out well. But was there a little fear and trepidation? Absolutely.”

All in all, despite not tuning in to any UFC shows, MMA is still a significant part of Goldberg’s life and legacy. It transcends whatever messiness may have gotten at the end.

So on the 25th anniversary of his UFC debut, Goldberg is nothing but thankful for his two decades spent calling some of the most legendary fights in UFC history.

“MMA “will always be special for me,” Goldberg stated.

” I will always be grateful to the athletes, the people who make up my family and the fans. They remind me of how I performed and that they were happy with what I did. Do I have the time to watch all of them? No, I don’t think anybody can really watch every single show out there right now. Do I want to turn it off? Never, ever. It’s a great sport, my friends are still part of it, and I love the fighters. The fighters are my favorite.

“I think back to those fighters, what they’ve told me, and I’ve seen the next breed [come in] – and Sean O’Malley’s request to listen to his podcast, then the reaction to the video — just reminds that you know what? A lot of the fighters still appreciate what I’ve done as well.”

Source: https://www.mmafighting.com/2022/12/22/23521282/mike-goldberg-reveals-his-great-moment-of-closure-with-dana-white-after-unceremonious-ufc-exit?rand=96749