If you’re ever looking for a surefire way to piss someone off, take whatever gripe you have about them straight to their boss. That’s what CagePotato’s new senior editor did in regards to Gus Johnson’s Strikeforce “Nashville” commentary, and surprise, surprise, Gus was furious. So pissed in fact he phoned CP’s Mike Russell late at night to call him on it, and in the process shared his real feelings on all the hate being thrown his way.
…As far as people saying that I damaged the image of the sport because of what I said about the shit that went down Saturday night, if anything, it was me trying to make an excuse for these idiots going out on national television and pulling what they did after the card was over. It’s obvious that it happens. People don’t need to hear it from me to know that it happens. We’ve all seen it. I state the obvious, and that’s obvious.”
“I take a lot of criticism, but I try my best to try to help promote this fucking sport, when nobody else, including television executives could give two shits because they think it’s barbaric and it’s filled with a bunch of hoodlums, which is exactly how it looked to everyone watching the show Saturday night. I don’t really care about the ‘growing opinion’, because there’s another side that isn’t going to feel that way [about me]. There are certain message boards and websites where people don’t feel that way at all. The problem with MMA is that these Internet guys ruin the sport because they’re negative 90 percent of the time. I’ve looked at them. if we give everyone a voice, we wouldn’t get anything accomplished. I try to say as many good things about these athletes in this sport on a network level — not on an underground level or a Spike TV cable level or a pay-per-view level. This is actual television and nobody knows if they’re going to pull the plug on this thing. If that happens, then everyone will lose money.”
“My job isn’t to promote the sport. I’m paid to give my opinion and to describe what I see and it’s my opinion that the guys they had Jake fight were supposed to beat him. That’s how I see it. I said it, so I believe it. That’s disrespect. Do you mean to tell me that Strikeforce didn’t bring a former Pride champion [like] Dan Henderson in to beat Jake Shields? Come on, man. I’m also not blaming Miller for what happened. Mayhem didn’t do anything that Shane Mosely hasn’t done, or other fighters who aren’t a part of the main event of the card who get in the cage or the ring to hype a future fight haven’t done hundreds of times before. Floyd Mayweather wins a fight and Shane Mosley comes into the ring as soon as it’s over and asks when you gonna give me a fight, man? It always happens. That’s not a big deal. The reaction from Gilbert and Jake and all these guys was what was the big deal. It was improper, and to be honest, it was shameful.”
As far as how this all went down, I’m not about to defend either of them. Neither handled the situation particularly well. That said, while I’m not a fan of Gus Johnson’s work thus far as CBS’ MMA play-by-play announcer, he does make a valid point regardless of how shrewd it is. When it comes to UFC commentary, all anyone ever bitches about is how Mike Goldberg and to an extent Joe Rogan shill for the UFC. This is a different situation though, in fact, it’s one of the reported reasons the UFC hasn’t been on network television yet. Gus Johnson, Mauro Ranallo and Frank Shamrock aren’t employed by Strikeforce, they’re employed by CBS and Showtime. If Gus Johnson or any other announcer feels it’s relevant to the fights to point out something that doesn’t shine a favorable light on the promoter, that’s perfectly fine and welcomed. That’s how it should be and they have the freedom to do that unlike Goldie and Rogan. In all the Gus Johnson criticism I’ve heard that’s never come up, however it was one of the issues Russell relayed to Scott Coker, so I think it’s important to understand the context of what Johnson was actually responding to before crucifying him for it.
Sure, Johnson made mistakes Saturday night and he certainly could have said something better than “Sometimes these things happen in MMA” during the brawl, but his commentary, or anyone else’s for that matter, isn’t going to make or break MMA on national television. At the end of day, it’s about whether the Strikeforce product sells or not, not whether Gus Johnson knows the difference between an armbar and a kimura.