Football had John Madden. Boxing had Howard Cosell. Baseball has Vin Scully. And the UFC has Joe Rogan.
The voice of the UFC for nearly two decades has hinted that he may retire if the UFC sells. Rogan might quit anyway in the near future. He's approaching burnout after calling all of the UFC's biggest fights.
Love him or hate him, Rogan and his voice are synonymous with the UFC. He knows his stuff, seems to anticipate a move or finish seconds before it happens. Hearing Joe's voice for an MMA fan is kind of like a baby hearing her mama call her name. It just feels comforting.
So if JoRo has to go, let's think about who could replace him. The truth is, no one can replace him. Losing Rogan is like losing Letterman. It's never the same. But the world must go on. Let's look at five potential UFC replacements.
Color commentary is about connecting the dots between the play-by-play. By itself, play-by-play describes the moves in the cage. Color commentary tells the story, provides the exposition, the emotion that makes the play-by-play matter more than just a submission attempt. Sonnen can do that, and make us laugh along the way.
Sonnen is given to hyperbole, and tends to cheer for his favorite fighters and criticize those he doesn't like, but he knows the sport and is a familiar voice to UFC fans. Plus, seeing Sonnen conduct post-fight interviews with someone like Jon Jones would be worth the price of admission alone.
With his pro wrestling mentality, Sonnen would make even post-fight interviews exciting (without the Joe Rogan gush that occasionally arises."
How many fights does Rousey have left? She has revolutionized the sport and will forever be remembered as the face of women's MMA. She'll fight Miesha Tate, maybe rematch with Holly Holm, but Rousey's future is in Hollywood and television, not getting smashed by Cyborg.
So what's the next best thing to seeing Rousey inside the cage twice or three times a year? How about seeing her at PPVs every month?
Rousey knows the sport and is familiar with so many fighters on the roster that she would bring a level of expertise to her calls. The UFC would also break ground of its own by appointing a female lead sports broadcaster for anything other than women's golf or tennis. And Rousey has some strong views that belong on PPV.
Jim Ross, the voice of the WWE's attitude era, is probably as responsible for professional wrestling's emergence in the late 1990s with The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Ross has a gift for drama, an unbelievable ability to hype a match and make you care.
He's also not just "a wrestling announcer." He's called MMA fights, college football and boxing matches. And every time something amazing happens in sports, there's somebody around to do a mashup of Jim Ross calling the show. Remember the World Cup? Jim Ross called it. "My Gawd, My Gawd, My Gawd. Somebody stop the damn match!"
Bellator's color commentator already looks a little like Joe Rogan. He kind of sounds like him if you close your eyes. And he knows his stuff.
Jimmy Smith is also somewhat of a familiar voice if you watch Bellator. He might also have the edge over Rogan in terms of enthusiasm and energy calling a match.
Rogan is smart and deliberate and Smith is smart and excitable. Watch the video if you are Bellator virgin. Smith has a fat record of thrilling calls. He could make a seamless transition into the UFC.
Ranallo is probably the most talented MMA announcer in the world. He can do play-by-play. He can do color. He can do post-fight interviews. Over the years he worked for Strikeforce on Showtime, Invicta FC, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Glory, and a host of other promotions. He's currently the play-by-play announcer for Smackdown! in the WWE.
Ranallo could make heavy breathing sound entertaining. A lifelong MMA and professional wrestling fan, Ranallo put in the work to earn his spots calling the most famous fighters and professional wrestlers in the world. He's well-respected by the athletes and has a sense of independence about him.
If Joe Rogan retires, Ranallo would be the best guy to step in. Need more convincing? Watch my favorite MMA fight of all time in the clip above at 2:50 to 3:05 This is Ranallo in all his glory.