Bruce Buffer is known as “The Veteran Voice of the Octagon”—and for good reason. As of 2021, the 64-year-old has been serving as the UFC’s chief announcer for 25 years.
Of course, that’s not all Buffer has going on. When he’s not roaring in the Octagon, Buffer is managing his brother—boxing announcer Michael Buffer—and keeping busy with a number of interesting ventures.
Maxim recently caught up with the legendary Octagon announcer to discuss his career with the UFC, his favorite fights and fighters, his life outside the cage, and plenty more.
At this point, Bruce, you’re as synonymous with the UFC as the Octagon itself. What does it mean to you to be such an important part of the organization?
I promote the UFC, I support it, I do my job, but the show’s about the fighters and the fans. It’s not about me. I’m there to enhance the moment for the fighters and enhance the moment for the fans. That’s my goal. I walk out, I feel the energy, and it’s great to be a part of something as amazing as the UFC.
We’ve all seen and heard you inside the Octagon, but in terms of behind-the-scenes preparation, what does the job entail?
There’s a lot of preparation, preparation of my fight cards, which takes three to four hours by the time I’ve done everything. The UFC is a well-oiled machine. I get the fighter bios from them. Of course, when I get to the show, there’s the weigh-ins, there’s often changes [to the fights], there’s this, that, and the other that needs to be done.
Aside from the prep of my cards, I actually just train. I want to be in the best shape I can, I want to give it my all physically. But I don’t rehearse, aside from making sure I have the fighters’ name [pronunciations] down and the stats. If you notice, I rarely even look at my cards when I’m announcing, I kind of just absorb it when I’m writing.
Aside from that, it’s about getting out there and feeling the energy of the crowd, whether it’s only a hundred people at the [UFC] Apex center in Las Vegas or 20,000 in Houston or Arizona. The bottom line is it’s me and the fighter when I get in there, and I just want to feel the energy of the moment, and hopefully the energy of the crowd. Then I just let it go.
I’ve got to ask about the suits. You’re known for being a lavish dresser on fight nights. Why is dressing well important to you?
I’ve always loved to dress well. I mean, I’m a surfer, so I can relax in a bathing suit or Lulu Lemon during the day, but I have no problem putting on the suit or the tuxedo at night. When it comes to show night, I like to be a first-class image when I walk in, I like to represent the brand well.
I have these amazing tailors, King & Bay out of Toronto, Canada. We’ve had a five-plus year relationship now. I’ve helped them build their brand, they’ve helped build my brand with the tuxedos and smoking jackets and everything they’ve made for me. As a matter of fact, this year is my 25th anniversary of announcing in the Octagon, so for every single pay-per-view, we’re creating a brand new jacket, and it’s really cool.
I read these articles where people are calling me a fashion icon, which kind of makes me laugh, but if that’s the way they perceive it that’s all good. I just go out there and do my thing.
You’ve been at this for 25 years. How much longer do you intend to keep announcing?
Buffer: I put everything I can into my announcing, and the moment I can’t perform physically, vocally, then it will be time for me to retire. But my passion just keeps growing so that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m good for another 10 years at least.
You’ve watched a lot of fights over the years. Are there any that really stand out in your memory?
You’ve got to remember I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so I’ve seen probably every fight there is in the Octagon, and I’ve probably forgotten more than I can remember. It’s very difficult, if not impossible to say what the best fight would be, but I can give you examples of great fights.
One example is back to the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, when Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin fought. I even lost character a bit and said to the audience when I was announcing the winner that ‘you’ve just seen the greatest fight ever in the Octagon.’ I caught a little flack for that because it’s not my role as the announcer, but at that moment, I couldn’t help but say it.
Then you look at the wars we’ve had recently… Let me put it this way: every time I think I’ve seen the best fight, two months later, two shows later, with all the entertainment the UFC brings, I see another amazing fight. These male and female warriors, these Octagon warriors, they’re like Superman or Superwoman and it never ceases to amaze me.
The GOAT debate always gets people talking. In your opinion, who are the best fighters of all time?
It’s a long list. Definitely Jon Jones, even though he’s not retired. Definitely Georges St-Pierre. You could even put Chuck Liddell in there, given the way he paved the way for the UFC. Randy Couture, most definitely. Israel Adesanya is on his way. And of course Amanda Nunes has proven herself to be the GOAT of women’s MMA. She’s just an amazing fighter.
Expanding on that, which fighters have most enjoyed watching most over the years?
There’s tons. I’m very happy to see Miesha Tate coming back, I’ve always enjoyed watching her fight. Georges St-Pierre, he’s one of the GOATs, most definitely. You’ve got the great Chuck Liddell—how could you not love watching Chuck Liddell do his thing? Jon Jones too.
And look at the other fighters we have today, like [UFC flyweight champion] Brandon Moreno. He’s one of my favorite fighters, all around. He’s a great young man, father, fighter. He’s cerebral, he’s fighting for his country, he has a great attitude—the whole bit.
Are there any fighters on the UFC roster that you see as future superstars? Anyone you can see becoming the next big thing?
There’s definitely a couple, but I think a big superstar you’re going to see is going to be Brandon Moreno. I think he’s going to be catching on with fans and have a long career for himself. I’m very impressed with him and I’m so excited to watch his evolutionary process.
Israel Adesanya too, definitely. I love watching his process. And let’s see how Francis Ngannou does. Everyone loves the heavyweights.
There are some big fights on the horizon. Which fights are you most looking forward to?
My eye is always on the next fight. So right now I’m just focused on Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier [at UFC 264 on July 10]. I do so many fights, you might ask me about a fight I did two weeks ago, and I’ll have a hard time remembering because I’m so focused on going forward. There’s just so much to absorb.
So right now my whole focus is on UFC 264, which is going to be an amazing night. Poirier’s coming out fighting for family, fighting for his future. Conor, with the gazillions he’s worth, is fighting for pride, fighting for his own goals. They’re coming from two different directions to a certain extent, but the same direction to another extent. So the buildup to the fight is going to be awesome.
I’ve got to ask you about the Paul brothers, Logan and Jake. These guys are making a lot of waves inside the combat sports industry, and not everybody is happy about it. What are your thoughts on them and the influencer boxing trend?
Logan’s a friend of mine. I know Logan and I like Logan a lot. I’ve met Jake, and they both kind of walk to a different tune. This whole thing—I call it exhibition boxing—reminds of something that was very successful that my brother and I were involved in, which was the Fox celebrity boxing shows that they had some 15 years ago. When those happened, and you had C and D-list celebrities—and I mean that with all respect—going in and throwing punches at each other, people were really interested because of all the fanbases [celebrities] bring.
The one thing about the Logan and Jake Paul boxing events is that boxing fans are an older demographic than mixed martial arts and UFC fans. When Logan and Jake fight, they’re bringing eyeballs to the sport. That’s very important, [for new fans] to see and appreciate the beauty of boxing.
Sure, they’re making $10 million, $20 million, and they’ve just had two or three fights, but you’ve got to remember: they’re the ones with the following. They have a right to earn that money, and the boxing events that they’re putting on, they’re creating a lot of fanfare, a lot of attention, and a lot of criticism too, because people are wondering how YouTube influencers are out there making all this money when serious boxers aren’t making that kind of money. Well, the bottom line is branding and marketing.
Nobody’s taking anything away from the professional boxers. It’s just another show, and not all of [these types of events] will do as well. I know there was another show recently with TikTok influencers, and they did not hit the numbers they wanted to hit. So you don’t want to have too many of these events. You don’t want to create a saturation. But in my mind, if you do it correctly and market it correctly, you’ll have successful events, entertaining events, and everybody walks away happy.
You’re a busy man outside of your work with the UFC. What else have you got going on?
Well, I manage my brother, Michael Buffer’s, career. I have not stopped doing that. There’s a lot of licensing and involvement around that famous phrase “let’s get ready to rumble,” and his appearances, which are picking up as the pandemic is calming down.
I also have my Puncher’s Chance bourbon, which just won three gold medals for tasting awards in America, and three gold medals for design of the bottle. We’re considered one the fastest-selling bourbons in America, and it’s really come out of the gate strong.
You’ll also be hearing in three or four weeks about the release of my own It’s Time energy product line. This is going be coming out of England, and it’ll be international, all over the world, with distribution centers in the United States. It’s an all-natural energy product.
I have my own cologne and toiletry line that’s going to be released all around the world, too, in the next few months.
You recently got involved with a company called MILLIONS.CO, an e-commerce platform that helps athletes connect with their fans. Tell us about the company and how you got started with them.
MILLIONS approached me. The owners and my co-founders are very passionate about the project. They’ve had much success in the app industry. They definitely don’t need to work, but this is a passion project for them because they love boxing, they love the UFC, they love the whole concept of athletes and how they put everything toward being the best they can be. But in a lot of cases, just like with entertainers, talent is not always the best at branding, not always the best with business.
A lot of athletes think ‘I need a million followers, 500,000 followers, 100,000 followers before I can even sell a t-shirt.’ Well, that’s not true. You have a following. You’ve got people who want to know how you train, how you eat, how you live, along with how you perform, whether it’s in the ring or the cage.
Aside from waiting for, in a fighter’s case, your purse that night, after you train for eight or 10 weeks, you should be able to monetize and have communication with your fan base. That’s where MILLIONS comes in. We want to help the athletes get to that point.
It’s a big hit right out of the gate with a lot of boxers, MMA fighters, Muay Thai fighters, whatever the case might be, but it’s not just going to be limited to that. The beauty about MILLIONS is that we’re going to build this so it’s for every athlete out there. You could be a volleyball player, baseball player, football player—it applies to everybody.
I see this as a very long-term project to make it the leading social commerce video platform, which connects the sports world to their fans. And so far, so good. It’s really doing well for a lot of people.