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Zuffa’s uneven announcing booth

I’m not a Frank Mir fan, but I’m willing to admit that he’s not half bad for an announcer – I’m able to tune him out quite easily, which is more than I can say about Frank Trigg and Mauro Ranallo. But I think everyone agrees that Mir was off his game hardcore at WEC 40.

The why is more debatable … is Frank just more concerned right now with his own career, which has re-energized several times over since he was given the WEC commentator gig as a backup nearly two years ago? Or should we be looking at the polished vapidness of his booth partner Todd Harris? Jordan Breen thinks it’s a mixture of the two:

So, Harris is inadequate … how does that impact Mir’s performance? Unfortunately, commentary doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s about interactional chemistry. Because Harris can neither offer context, insight nor even properly call action, Mir is forced to call essentially all of the technical action himself on top of describing its intricacies. This pattern exists in basically every MMA booth because of the fact that there are really no gifted MMA play-by-play announcers. Even the comparatively hyper-experienced Mike Goldberg, who has called UFC events since before the Corn Laws were repealed, barely calls any action. Instead he relies on Joe Rogan, who is forced to fulfill both traditional commentary roles.

This is a fundamental flaw that is endemic to MMA and one that’s not about to change in the near future. Therefore, guys like Mir, who are already ill-suited to color commentary because of their in-cage requirements, are forced to pick up an enormous amount of slack for a human being who is fit to do nothing but take a broadcast in and out of commercial breaks. As a result, on top of being ill prepared, Mir has to talk endlessly until the fighters in the cage can chill out momentarily and let Harris plug “Crank 2.” (Side note: How the hell is Crank now a franchise?) Of course, this is the complete inverse of how sports booths tend to functionally operate, where experienced professionals can carry the insightful but unnuanced athletes.

MMA has changed from a play-by-play / color dynamic to either “two dudes jamming in the booth” for smaller shows or the big show “smart dude and the shill” that has become a favorite of Zuffa. All the shills Zuffa has gotten are from the pool of mediocre sports announcers … Mike Goldberg comes from volleyball and hockey while Todd Harris was an Indy Car and World’s Strongest Man announcer. Goldberg has been around MMA for over 12 years and he still couldn’t perform proper ‘play-by-play’ duties without Rogan or another chatterbox as a life preserver.

But goddamn can these two guys whore the shit out of products, so they’re gonna stick around for that reason. Perhaps what’s needed is a third person in the booth? Mind you, this isn’t about to fix the Frank Mir situation … when you have guys fucking up basic facts, that’s kinda a bad thing. But at the very least a third person will cut down on the amount of bullshit Mir has to spew because if he stopped blowing smoke up our asses, who knows what Todd Harris might say? And I mean AFTER he plugs Sports Soup 50,000 times.