Former UFC commentator Mike Goldberg was axed from his promotional duties unceremoniously at the end of 2016, but he made one last appearance on TV at UFC Phoenix that was as much of a surprise to him as anyone else.
When the UFC came to Phoenix, Mike Goldberg had to be there. He may have been just weeks out from his remarkably discreet release from his duties as ringside commentator for the promotion, but as he explained in a recent interview on the MMA Hour, he was there to see one of his “best friends” step in the cage. “B.J. Penn is one of my favorite people in the world, and I went that night for B.J. Penn,” Goldberg said of his decision to show up at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn.
And while he scored some suite tickets from a friend, at some point during the evening the former UFC play-by-play man decided to wander down and see if he couldn’t find a seat a bit closer to the action (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“Random row. I go down, I see empty seats. I sit down with these dudes in front of me, I go, ‘anybody sitting here?’ They’re like, ‘no, no, no. Oooohhhh Mike Goldberg! Mike Goldberg!’ Random seats, could’ve been one in 18,000.
“And I see the camera come up and the lights are on, I know it’s one of live cameras. It’s one of the Steadicams where they come around and get crowd shots. So I see the light on, I give the shaka. And this is what I’m thinking: ‘okay, they’ve spotted me in the crowd and the truck is saying hello. They’re in commercial break, because they’re certainly not putting me on TV. Of course they’re not putting me on TV. They’re in commercial break.’ So I’m like, what’s up? Because I think I’m saying hi to my buddies, Anthony Girodano and everybody in the truck. I’m just saying hi, right?
“Well, much like your phone and your Twitter, whoosh… and I’m like ‘what the?!’”
And in the aftermath, Goldberg seems to be still tickled pink about the whole thing, especially the complete luck that one of the random crowd shots the UFC takes each event would have spotted him. Not to mention the fact that the brief on-screen highlight seems to have gotten him a lot of love from fans as well.
“Imagine the production truck now: ‘Joe Lauzon!’ They go ‘take three’ or whatever to that crowd shot, and out pops Goldy,” Goldberg said, laughing. “Oooohhhh, just think about it for a second. One of 18,000 seats. One of how many crowd shots. They could’ve taken any camera other than that. And it was just meant to be. I mean, it was unbelievable. The chances of that happening… it wasn’t even my ticket. I wasn’t even supposed to be in the stands. I was ‘that dude’ getting past the usher, grabbing an empty seat to get closer to the action.
“And the fans were great,” Goldberg added. “(The reaction online was,) first off, what a great guy, he’s there with the fans, which I was, because I am a fan and I am going to support ‘The Prodigy,’ my buddy B.J. Penn. Second, why isn’t he on the floor? Third, I hope he didn’t have to pay for the ticket. It just got better and better. It was just awesome. I just shook my head, and right after that, I should’ve gone and played the lottery. I really should’ve put some numbers down, because I was on a roll right then. I really was on a roll.”
And while he didn’t go play the lotto (apparently), that roll may end up carrying Goldberg into a potential deal with Bellator. Promotion president Scott Coker recently revealed that the Spike TV property is in negotiations to potentially bring on the former UFC employee. It may be that the next time you hear “It’s all over!” will be on a Bellator broadcast.