Champions are typically the ones who get the fame, glory and t-shirt endorsements. But due to his professionalism and likability, it’s the “Voice of the Octagon” Bruce Buffer who is becoming a pop culture icon.
Buff, as his friends call him, has become a favorite amongst keyboard warriors and the MMA industry as a whole. In fact, the UFC announcer’s popularity has spawned signature t-shirt deals with American Fighter and Toe 2 Toe, imposter profi les on Facebook and MySpace, and tribute videos that illustrate the passionate whip-like moves he executes in the octagon while doing fi ghter introductions.
“I cannot stand still. I’m not one of these announcers that just stands still and poses,” the 52-year-old says. “I have respect for all announcers – my thing is I got to do it my way and it’s just what I do.” More like an MC at a rap battle who speaks proper English, Buff’s passion and intensity transcends through his voice. He feeds off the energy circulating throughout the arena, thus allowing him to further hype up the fi ghters, and the crowd, through an array of signature movements – all of which are performed on the fl y.
Long before he picked up the mic, Buff ran a slew of successful ventures like Supply Information Warehouse and Sports Buff Enterprises, the latter of which sold guns and historical artifacts. When he was 31, he met his half brother Michael who announced for boxing matches and World Championship Wrestling. Three years later, Bruce sold his companies and began to manage Michael. Together they formed “The Buffer Partnership,” a licensing brand which they say has since grossed millions of dollars in retail sales.
Infl uenced by his brother’s profession, Bruce, who also worked previously as a motivational speaker, was itching to become an announcer as well – just not in boxing. Fortunately MMA was a natural progression, considering he had backgrounds in Muay Thai, Kickboxing, a black belt in Tang Soo Do and an honorary one in Jiu-Jitsu. Although Bruce announced for a few organizations, the UFC didn’t use him exclusively until he was cast to play himself on an episode of Friends in 1997. He would start announcing full-time for the promotion with UFC 13: Ultimate Force.
While Buff has developed memorable catchphrases like “We are live” and “It’s time,” it’s “The Buffer 180,” a move he reserves for introducing fi ghters during the UFC main and co-main events, that has solidifi ed his status as a YouTube superstar.
“When I was a kickboxer, one of my best things I had was a spinning bottom fi st,” he recalls. “It’s like throwing a spinning bottom fi st, but I just completely torqued my body and threw it 180 degrees to the left so I was facing the blue corner as I started to announce because I didn’t wanna confuse the audience. It got a reaction, but I actually enjoyed the move and decided to employ it into my announcing during future events.”