Dominick Cruz, Daniel Cormier to handle full-time analyst roles on next two UFC ‘Fight Night’ cards
Dominick Cruz and Daniel Cormier are UFC fighters who will be expanding into night-long analyst roles for two Fox Sports 1 “Fight Night” cards.
Current UFC champions Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz are expanding into nightlong analyst roles on the next two Fox Sports 1 “Fight Night” cards.
Cruz (22-1), the bantamweight champion out of San Diego, will call a staggering 13 fights with Jon Anik handling play-by-play for Saturday’s card headlined by Orange County-trained Cris “Cyborg” Santos and Sweden’s Lina Lansberg.
Cruz and Anik will call Saturday’s action from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fox Sports 1, with three other subscription UFC Fight Pass bouts preceding the FS1 broadcast.
“We’re on for seven hours. It’s like calling back-to-back Super Bowls,” Anik said. “It’s a job for the analyst coming in to pace themselves, to leave room in their register for 3:30 a.m. Brazil time, when the final fight is going to be happening and we need to make sure we’re at our peak. It’s 26 fighters, and you better know them all or the avid followers will let you know about it.”
It should help to have the articulate Cruz by his side in what represents a first of keeping an active UFC champion on air for an entire card.
Stepping into a role usually occupied by Joe Rogan, who recently extended his agreement with UFC with the freedom to bypass some international travel, Cruz has opinions, but he said it’s not necessarily his duty to express them all.
Asked if the UFC analyst owes it to fans to declare when fighters are under-performing and not living up to the standards or efforts of the organization’s top fighters, Cruz paused.
“I’ve never heard Joe Rogan ever say that – which match-up has he ever said, ‘This is one that shouldn’t be happening?’” Cruz asked. “I hear what you’re saying, but then you’ve got to really look at the position. My job is color commentary. I provide color and commentary to the people who might not understand what’s really going on. That means I have no opinion on anything.
“I’m to state facts about what is happening at the current time with the match-up. By me saying this match is not supposed to happen, I’m putting my opinion out there. And to be perfectly honest, that is probably going to be one of the hardest parts about your job that people don’t understand -- your opinions don’t matter, it’s about stating the facts. That’s what my job is. Should or should they not be fighting is an opinion.”
That said, Cruz has a firm position on “Cyborg,” who has repeatedly called out Ronda Rousey but has also said she may die if she tries to cut weight to the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds.
“She’s not the biggest name in the division -- not bigger than Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey or Holly Holm. She just needs to keep competing and make the weight,” Cruz said. “Quit talking about it and begging for catch-weights. Make the weight and fight.
“They’ll make a division for certain people, right? But those are the people who draw 350,000 to 500,000 people per show.”
Would “Cyborg” die if she sought to trim to 135?
“We don’t know if that’s true because we’re not her, first of all. Second of all, she has to be willing to die if she’s going to win the belt anyway, so who cares?” Cruz said.
Former ESPN product Anik is in the midst of working with three different analysts consecutively, having worked with Brian Stann on Saturday in Texas.
“When I made this move, this was part of the vision that [UFC] would be in the big five [sports] and become a mainstream sport,” he said, two months after the company was sold for $4 billion.
Cormier, the light-heavyweight champion, said his Oct. 1 assignment in Portland, Ore., for a card headlined by top-five bantamweights John Lineker and John Dodson provides “a clear idea of what the company and Fox think of what I bring to the sport. It’s a big pat on the back. It really is an honor.
“This is one of those dreams I never even made.”
Cormier and Cruz have shined in their roles as desk analysts.
While Cruz awaits word on his next fight -- rising challenger Cody Garbrandt is expected to emerge as the foe for a fight later this year -- he’s comfortable in his position.
“I am the best in the world and all these guys are fighting me to gain credit,” Cruz said. “They have no name until they beat me at 135 [pounds], so they’re all going to talk about me, say I’m scared, but they all need me.”
Cormier engaged in a Twitter feud with challenger Anthony Johnson recently, dismissing Johnson’s conspiracy theory that the UFC and Cormier are working to delay Johnson’s title shot.
“I don’t control the fights. I show up when they tell me,” Cormier said. “I said, ‘OK, we can fight, but it’s not going to be November.’ I’ve got this play-by-play gig and other things to do before I start training. You can ask anybody -- when I start training, there’s no more ‘UFC Tonight.’ I just start training. I want 10, 12 weeks to feel confident about a fight.”
Meanwhile, the Nevada State Athletic Commission could soon decide the fate of Cormier’s bitter rival, Jon Jones, who was yanked from the UFC 200 card in July due to a positive test for clomiphene, which some have cryptically contended was instead a sexual-performance substance.
“The Nevada commission can go left or right, and if you look at [former middleweight champion] Anderson Silva’s [suspension], when he tested positive for some bad Viagra … now, Jon might’ve taken some bad sexual pills. Well, Anderson got a year, and that’d leave Jon [out until] June, and I’m not going to wait that long,” Cormier said. “I want to fight him when the time’s right --- not right into a fight.”
Cormier and Anik will call the Portland card Oct. 1 from 6-8 p.m. on Fox Sports 2, and complete the show from 8-10 p.m. on FS1.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire
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