With large gatherings prohibited as of the moment, the UFC had no choice but to hold its past two UFC fight cards with no audience around. This was the case for Saturday at UFC 249, the first pay-per-view event devoid of the sound of screaming fans.
With the surrounding Octagon area suddenly silent, competitors in the cage are able to clearly hear every other sound around them. That includes the coaching from both sides, as well as the voices of those on the broadcast booth.
It actually worked well for Carla Esparza when she began hearing Daniel Cormier’s tips and suggestions as the color commentator.
“It’s crazy because he’s criticizing me and part of me was, like, ‘Hey, that’s messed up. Why are you saying that?’” Esparza said during her post-fight scrum. “Then I was, like, ‘That’s actually a good idea.’
“He was, like, ‘she’s just striking or she’s just going for takedowns, she needs to mix it up.’ I tried to make some adjustments in there and it’s crazy. We’re definitely able to really hear them in there.
Greg Hardy felt the same way when he fought Yorgan de Castro to kick off the main card.
“Thank God for not having the crowd,” Hardy told Joe Rogan during the Octagon interview. “Shout out to ‘DC,’ I heard him tell me to figure out to check (the kicks). So I started trying to check them. Game-changer.”
Cormier himself was amused when he found out about the credit given to him.
“Our producer in the back telling me Carla Esparza’s giving me credit for making adjustments,” Cormier told Rogan and Jon Anik after the broadcast. “Greg Hardy says it in the middle of the Octagon.
“We’ve got to do something about that. If we’re gonna do it like this, we’ve got to find a way to not coach these guys.
“My mind is a cheat code,” he said with a laugh. “So you’ve got to be careful with giving it away. Fighting as a short person, I’m the king of! I’m 5’9”!”
The number seven-ranked Esparza came out victorious against Michelle Waterson via split decision, as she now compiles a three-fight win streak. Hardy, meanwhile, picked up his third UFC win via unanimous decision.