There is always something you learn every day in the world, regardless of what it is. I’m always trying to learn from different analysts or current fighters about every aspect of MMA or the fight business in general. That is my mindset, when I watch UFC tonight or listen to Joe Rogan or Kenny Florian commentating. It’s also my mindset, when I’m at a press conference.
Fighters who need to become Fox analysts
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the UFC press conference at Madison Square Garden. While interviewing Dominick Cruz (which you can view here), it was memorizing listening to how intelligent he is. I knew how smart he was from being an analyst on Fox, but for some reason he was never on while I was watching. It was the first time witnessing how much of a student of the game he truly is.
Even when I miss it, I’ll always try to watch the latest episode of UFC tonight or the pre show before the main card begins. They have a great panel with Jon Anik, Chael Sonnen, Rashad Evans, and Brian Stann amongst others. I’d like to see Fox use more fighters and giving them opportunities to analyze fights on the national stage. If you saw Ariel Helwani’s interview with Sonnen before UFC 167, he admitted to having too many distractions.
Of course, the announcement of him coaching “The Ultimate Fighter” against Wanderlei Silva played a part in that distraction. Still you would have to believe that being an analyst on Fox during training has to be a distraction. You had to notice that Evans wasn’t an analyst during his training camp for the fight. It seems like they need to use more fighters to be analysts. If they bring in more retired fighters like Stephan Bonnar that would be great as well. I’m going to focus on active fighters that would be great additions to the Fox Sports panel. I’d like to see them have a bigger variety than relying on the same batch of fighters.
1. Rich Franklin
He hasn’t fought in a year and has said that his next fight will be his last. That being said, he’s still an active competitor and can be put on this list. Franklin has outside projects like his smoothie business, which is doing great. I’d still like to see him featured more, because he’s been off for so long and has proven to be a great representative of the sport. Who can forget his infamous interview along with Dana White on the Bill O’Reilly show? He couldn’t have come off better going against a delusional O’Reilly about the safety of MMA.
Franklin has so much experience and is well spoken, where newer fans will be educated about the sport even more. They can learn about the UFC from six to eight years ago, along with other tidbits from Franklin. I’m shocked that he’s not been brought in to be an analyst, although he may have declined the offer. All I’m trying to imply is that he would be great to bring on once or twice a month.
2. Frank Mir
This is an obvious choice, as everyone knows how intelligent Mir is. He is incredibly well spoken and isn’t afraid to call a fighter out on their shortcomings. This is a similar situation to Franklin, where I’m shocked he hasn’t been used more. Obviously he has a large family to take care of and is facing a “win or go home” situation in his next fight against Alistair Overeem. His camp will likely be starting soon, so I’m not expecting him to be on Fox anytime soon. Still it doesn’t make much sense to me why they don’t use him, when he is another great representative of the company.
I’ve seen him on Fuel once before, but that was about the only time I’ve seen him on UFC programming as an analyst. He has mentioned in the past that he wants to commentate, after his retirement. His commentary in the WEC was well-received as well. That could be an even better role for him. Regardless of the role, he should have a spot somewhere on Fox Sports. You may dislike Mir for being brash, but nobody can deny how knowledgeable he is when it comes to fighting.
3. Gilbert Melendez
Melendez has a quiet demeanor, so he’s never really mentioned when it comes to the most interesting fighters outside the octagon. I’ve watched him on ESPN’s MMA live before and he had me glued to the screen. Similar to Mir, he’s outspoken and won’t shy away from criticizing a fighter. Even though they have analysts, which have strong wrestling backgrounds like Sonnen, Cormier, and Evans. He would still be a great addition for being one of the most well rounded fighters in the world. He doesn’t rely on his wrestling on the same level as the three names I’ve mentioned above.
It was gratifying to see Melendez finally fight in the UFC last April, after putting on so many outstanding performances in Strikeforce. Now it’ll be gratifying to see him on Fox and be on the panel more. Hopefully he gets the opportunity, because he’s another fighter that has always been a class act and has a massive fan base. I’m sure many people will be excited to see him on Fox Sports being an analyst.
4. Josh Barnett
For as popular as he may be, Barnett seems to be the forgotten man. When the discussion comes up about the top heavyweights in the world, he doesn’t really get mentioned. When people talk about the best talkers in MMA, he doesn’t really get mentioned. It may be because he hasn’t been under the UFC lime light for that long now. I’d still think Barnett would be an excellent fit as an analyst, especially with how witty he is.
With his pro wrestling background and being on Joe Rogan’s podcast several times, you can clearly tell he has the resume of being an appealing talker. I thought that people would start mentioning him more in their choices for future analysts or even commentators. It’s a shame because he would bring a lot to the table as an analyst. With newer fans coming in and struggling to grasp the concepts of grappling, Barnett would be the perfect addition to explain that to them. When you give him a microphone, he’s always entertaining and always says something that you won’t forget. After his fight with Travis Browne, I’d love to see him have an opportunity.
5. Brendan Schaub
Dan Hardy was going to be my final pick, but I’m not quite sure how he’s doing after being diagnosed with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome. I’ve seen Schaub on James Koh’s “Cage Talk” show and he was breaking down every main card from UFC on Fox 7. I wanted to hear more from him, after watching for fifteen minutes. Similar to Mir, he tends to get criticized far too often for being brash which always baffled me. Not every fighter can be Lyoto Machida and be the most respectful fighter in the world.
It would be nice to see an inclusion of young fighters on the panel. Even though Schaub isn’t a big name, he is well rounded and knows how to break down fights. I’d like to see more of a variety in fighters from different divisions. Hopefully in the upcoming years, there will be some flyweights that will start getting recognition for being entertaining outside of the octagon. I know I’ve chosen a handful of heavyweights, but that’s just the way it came out to be.