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Monday, May 20, 2024

UFC’s Bruce Buffer: ‘I’m a Brand-Builder’

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Ring announcer Bruce Buffer introduces Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana before their fight at UFC 289 at Rogers Arena.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Buffer is known to millions as the voice electrifying UFC crowds with his signature phrase, “It’s time!”

But take a wider look at his career endeavors, and one sees that his ability to rile up a crowd is part of a broader skill set in elevating people and products.

“I’m a brand-builder,” he explained on Front Office Sports Today. 

Before he could use his brand to sell cologne, bourbon, or his new marketing and monetization platform Millions.co, he had to actually build it — and he knew he wanted to do it in combat sports.

“I’ve been in martial arts since I was 12,” he said. “I realized that that was my world.”

However, after his half-brother Michael Buffer — known for the iconic phrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” — finished a contract with UFC and moved on to boxing, Bruce had to convince UFC to put him in the ring, telling executives, “You’re going to get a lot more than an announcer. I’ll do everything I can to help grow the sport.”

“It fell on deaf ears,” he recalled.

It was only after he parlayed a few announcing gigs into an appearance on “Friends” that he convinced UFC to give him a shot.

“I feel like a girl waiting to be asked to the prom,” he said, recalling his pitch to UFC. “I’ll help you build this brand, and I’ll grow with you as the announcer.”

And grow it did: Between 2005 and 2021, UFC revenue rose at a compound annual rate of 21% to top $1 billion. Buffer is enjoying the ride.

“It’s having a first-class seat on a rocket ship,” he said. “It’s an amazing experience.”

Now his parent company Endeavor is growing its reach in the combat entertainment world after buying WWE for $9.3 billion in April. 

“I can see cross-promotion, but I don’t see … wrestling and MMA coming together,” Buffer noted. “They are two separate animals. The bottom line is that when you put it all together … it’s just a huge media giant.” 

While he sees waning interest in more gimmicky, celebrity fights, there is one potential bout he has his eye on: “Elon Musk and Zuckerberg, like Dana White said, would be the biggest fight ever.”

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