Ranking the Best Ring and Cage Announcers in MMA History
Lamenting a slow news day? Well, lament no more. Here comes a heavy-hitting dose of the hard stuff. Casual news junkies need not apply.
Still with me? Outstanding. Let us now then roll up our sleeves and rank the top MMA ring and cage announcers of allllll time. Sanctioned by Bleacher Report, and presented by Meow Mix*, the cat food cats have goooooooot to haaaaaave.
These professionals build the ambiance. They bank the fires of emotion. And when they say that we are live, OH NELLY, we aaarrre live.
Everyone has their favorite, and every favorite has detractors. But they all bring something good to the table. Without further ado, iiiiiiiiiiiiit's tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!
*Not presented by Meow Mix.
5. Michael C. Williams
Notable MMA affiliations: Bellator, Affliction
The newest member of the ring announcer canon, Michael C. Williams is the voice of Bellator.
He's got a good set of pipes and is a clear fight fan. Sometimes he tends to drone on and inject himself into the proceedings a bit, but he balances it with an ability to build genuine excitement.
4. Jimmy Lennon Jr.
Notable MMA affiliations: Strikeforce, Elite XC
No gimmicks. No wild gestures. No two-thousand-dollar suits. No overwrought catch phrases. Jimmy Lennon Jr., is the epitome of old school.
He's done his share of MMA work, though he's better known as a boxing announcer. He's a member of two different boxing Halls of Fame, and was the ring announcer in "Raging Bull," for cripe's sake. That's how synonymous he was with that sport.
But he brought the same class and straightforward professionalism to everything he touched, right alongside that Irish twang. Just one of those people who got to do what he was born to do.
Here's a highlight reel and interviews involving both Lennon and his ring-announcer father Jimmy Sr.
3. Bruce Buffer
Notable MMA affiliations: UFC
For MMA fans, Bruce Buffer is "our guy."
In a way, Buffer embodies the MMA psyche: a little less polished, a little less glamorous, a little more exciting and a little more tangible than a far more famous half brother. For MMA, that's boxing. For Buffer himself, it's the voice of boxing and the most famous ring announcer ever, his real half brother Michael.
Though he can be rather gimmicky with the spinning and the shouting and the hey-hey-hey, there is no free will or conscious criticism involved in the response his catchphrases elicit. Bruce Buffer shouts "we arrrrre liiiiiive!" and I'm running to the television, Pavlovian drool strings trailing in my wake. The end.
2. Joe Martinez
Notable MMA affiliations: WEC, Cage Warriors, Tachi Palace Fights, UFC
It's more than a job for Joe Martinez. It's a clear, unbridled and unembarrassed passion.
He loves being an announcer, and loves the fight game. Maybe that's why he's arguably the second-most in-demand MMA mic-handler today.
On top of his steady work with Cage Warriors and others, he was called in to emcee the Octagon for the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in Australia, when Bruce had another UFC gig the same weekend in Vegas.
What makes him so good? Well, those golden pipes are certainly a part of it. As is his loud, clear delivery and ability to flawlessly pronounce any name—including Spanish and Portuguese names, for which he uses a pitch-perfect accent without making some big production out of it.
He also has an innate knack for getting fans excited without seeming to try too hard. He's excited, so you should be excited. Because there's fights on! Focus up!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if I start an MMA promotion tomorrow, I'll go out and hire Joe Martinez without giving it a second thought.
Because I couldn't find a usable video from his MMA portfolio, here he is introducing a boxing match involving one Mr. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
1. Lenne Hardt
Notable MMA affiliations: Pride, ONE FC, DREAM
OK, hardcore fans. You can douse those torches now.
No list of MMA ring and cage announcers is quite right unless Lenne Hardt—affectionately known to some as "Crazy Pride Lady"—is at the top. The disembodied goddess of Japanese MMA was never seen, but boy, was she ever heard.
No one who heard them will forget those delightfully drawn-out, syllable-trilling fighter introductions, which she began not when the fighter was in the ring but rather just as he was emerging through the smoke and into view of the arena. It could get a little screechy, yes. But it was about as dramatic as it gets.
To this day, I STILL hear Lenne in my head whenever Wanderlei Silva or Jacare Souza are making their way to the cage. She is the queen, and she deserves her due.
Here's an interesting interview with The Lady herself.