The in-cage interview after a mixed martial arts fight so often begins the same way: the broadcaster asks the question … and the fighter goes off in another direction without ever coming close to answering the question asked.
Typically, the fighter shouts out his sponsors and gives thanks to his coaches and friends and family. Or he or she may fire off the next video clip to set social media ablaze.
Jon Anik, who will call the play-by-play for UFC Long Island on Fox this Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, laughed at the topic Friday.
“What I’ve started to do is just say ‘congratulations’ and then just give them sort of an open mike to start and then I’ll follow up with what my first question would have been,” he said.
Anik has learned a few things in his years interviewing fighters in the minutes after accomplishing physical glory.
“Whether it’s Raging Al in Norfolk, Virginia, or Yoel Romero, or Ben Rothwell doing that crazy dance, it seems like it always gets a little bit weird when I get in there,” Anik said. “I always enjoy doing that.”
He doesn’t interview fighters in the cage as much now as in the recent past. And on Saturday’s broadcast, that job will go to analyst Brian Stann.
But Anik understands the job of the interviewer in that particular role isn’t about enlightening the viewers on the finer points of mixed martial arts.
“Ultimately our goal in there is to certainly look back at the fight and what they did well, but to try to use those two or three minutes to help build stars,” Anik said. “Among the most important parts of our job is to humanize these guys and to help the promotion build stars, and the post-fight interviews are one of the biggest opportunities to do just that.”