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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Danny Segura

Jon Anik on the balance between line-crossing trash talk and ‘promotionally useful’ UFC fighter banter

Like many, Jon Anik is not too pleased to hear some of the things that have been said in recent UFC press conferences.

Anik, a play-by-play commentator for the UFC, is aware of the escalation in trash talk between fighters going on in the promotion. Some have suggested it’s a bad look for the sport, and it could affect its growth and further acceptance into the mainstream sports world.

Anik agrees it’s not a great look, but getting acceptance from fans has been a battle since the start of the sport. There are certain things he doesn’t want to hear, but all in all, he’s all in on the chaos MMA brings.

“If I’m being honest, I want things to go nuts when I’m in that arena,” Anik told MMA Junkie Radio. “Not that I want a Mexico City type of situation necessarily with bottles flying, but I want madness. I want craziness in all forms. So we don’t want to throw objects that could hurt people, and we don’t want to say things about people’s families, I guess, in a broad sense, but I’m all for chaos.

“Colby Covington’s comments about Leon Edwards’ father were absolutely disgusting. And more vile than him injecting my children into the equation, and more relevant because he’s fighting Leon Edwards and not me. I guess I just feel like, not pessimistic, but like, dude, we’re always going to have to fight for this particular combat sport. Even like Josh Emmett against Bryce Mitchell, there are people who will use that (brutal knockout) as a jumping off point to preach negativity about this sport. The NFL has dozens upon dozens of head injuries worse than that every Sunday, and it leads the nightly news.”

It’s easy to criticize a fighter for things said at a press conference, and it’s another thing to be moderating the press conference in real time – something Anik also does on top of his commentating duties on fight night.

Anik is trying to become better and not letting things escalate between fighters, but at the same time giving it enough room for the fight to be promoted.

“I am up there trying to execute the company’s vision, Dana White’s vision, and I’ll look at a press conference like we had in Miami where Jorge Masvidal and Kevin Holland were not competing against one another,” Anik said. “They started going at it back-and-forth. Dana White intervened (and said), ‘You guys aren’t even fighting’ and wanted to move things forward. Then the next time I saw him, I said, ‘I’m glad it was you and not me up there, because in that situation I probably would’ve let that go.’

“And now here I know that you don’t necessarily like when athletes that are not competing against one another start to go at it, like Manel Kape and Israel Adesanya (at the UFC 293 press conference). So I’ve been up there for a lot of different situations, and this one was particularly unique when it came to Leon Edwards and Colby Covington. At that moment, I’m not really thinking a perpetual line-crosser like Colby Covington has crossed a line here that he hasn’t crossed before. I’m not thinking at the moment that this is the worst thing that is coming out of his mouth. I’m thinking about Leon Edwards’ emotional reaction and trying to do what I can in that setting.

“If I really feel like there’s an opportunity where I have to interject and shut things down, then I will. I don’t have a producer in my ear. Largely I have carte blanche up there and you just hope that when you see the boss at the weigh-in the next day, he’s not like, ‘Dude, why did you let that f*cking go?’ The worst thing I can probably do would be to shut off something that would be promotionally useful. But it is what it is.”

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