The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Dec. 1, 2021

Bruce Buffer - The Man Behind The Veteran Voice Of The UFC

Bruce Buffer - The Man Behind The Veteran Voice Of The UFC

Bruce Buffer (@brucebuffer) is a ring announcer best known for his time UFC as the "veteran voice of the octagon" for the last 25 years. He joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about how he got started as a ring announcer, meeting his half-brother Michael Buffer when he was 31 and Michael was 47, his business ventures outside of the UFC, his favorite names to introduce, his fight day preparation and more!

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When we see you in the octagon we see that passion personified. I’m curious to know, do you live your life with that same passion for everything?

"Yeah absolutely I tried to. Passion is something that I feel that if you are waking up for something, especially for work, if you are not passionate about what you do, then you have a job. That’s ok and that’s great, as long as you are into your job. But if you are passionate about what you do and you are monetising it, then you are living a life by design. So you are waking up to go after what you love, and the UFC, with the travelling around the world and everything involved, it’s more than just announcing 13 fights in an evening over 6 to 8 hours. There’s prep work, sacrificing spending time with your family and being on the road. People look at the glorious side and the trick is to make it look easy. But you know, it’s definitely a lot of work. And that combined with all the other businesses I run and everything else, it gets a little overwhelming at times. But if the passion is involved you deal with it and you get it done." 

Yeah tell us about everything else that you have going on. I think that people only see you looking dapper on a Saturday night in the octagon, but they don’t know everything else that goes on.

“Well for instance last weekend and next weekend, I’ll use last weekend as an example. I’ll fly to Vegas on the Friday, do UFC on the Saturday, stay the night and then open up the Raider game at Allegiant Stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders, that’s one thing I do. It was awesome and a big boost to my career, I’m not just a performer and an announcer. I do motivational speaking and I have a few tv commercials coming out in the next few months. My latest Manscaped commercial got released. I always have a kick in doing those, I am very self-deprecating, I don’t mind giving a giggle to people over what I do. But at the same time, with what I do with businesses, the business I expanded with my brother Michael, who is known for his ‘Let’s get ready to rumble!’ catchphrase. We got together some 30 years ago, where I properly trademarked and built his career worldwide along with a half billion dollar brand with him. During that process, I created my career in the octagon, which is now 25 plus years. But in business, you should start from a base and build out of the base, which I did with Michael with all the toys and video games that we created. So I am doing the same thing with myself. To me, all business is the same, it’s just the product that is different.”

We know you as the UFC announcer, but what else do you have going on?

“I have 3 or 4 huge things happening. I just launched a site called What that does is something that has never been done. We start it with fighters, and I’m all about the fighters making a million dollars a night when they put their blood, sweat and tears in the octagon. That doesn’t happen, except for a choice few, but that’s the same with any business. The UFC pays more than anyone, I don’t care what anyone says, I can argue that point all day long. The fighters are making good money, but when they are not fighting, they need to train, and having a second job takes up a lot of time, so we are trying to teach them how to market themselves. We will take a fighter, or an NCAA athlete, there’s also NFL and MLB athletes coming in. What does is that we will create merchandise for them. We will make them money through things like Cameos. It gives them a chance to market on social media to their direct market, which is what business is about these days. I want to teach this to the athletes.”

What are some of the more bizarre Cameo requests that you have gotten?

“Yeah the championship intros, the fans love them. I introduce you like a champion in the cage. If you go to Cameo, you’ll see the examples. But I’ve had things like eulogies, people want this played at their funeral, they haven’t even died yet. I had a request to introduce Jesus Christ against The Devil in a battle for a sermon in a Sunday church. I also did a ‘It’s time to move on…’ for a guy because I thought it was for his girlfriend’s new job or something. In fact he was breaking up with her, that went viral everywhere, but I didn’t know from looking at the script. You got to keep it classy or I won’t do it.”

Talk me through fight day. What does your routine look like before you get into the octagon?

“You know, a good night's sleep, power breakfast, meditation, workout. I don’t rehearse, I will go over the names and make sure I am saying them correctly. I’ve got about 4 hours prep on the fight cards that I hold in my hands, which have also become huge collectables. One of those cards sold for $4,200. I’m big on sports memorabilia collectibles, I know how to make a market for it. But it’s just about being prepared for the show. Once I walk out into the arena, I feel the energy of the crowd and that’s what gets me going.”

What’s the toughest type of name to say?

“Believe it or not, the single syllable names like Mike Swick. Give me Khabib Nurmagomedov all day long, the more meat, the more fun. With single syllables, it’s just ‘Mike Swick!’ I mean he is a great friend of mine but it’s just Mike Swick. There’s so much more to Khabib Nurmagomedov."

Your speaking voice is so different from your announcing voice. How did you find that voice?

“My dad was a Marine drill instructor, he served in World War 2 and in Korea. I used to walk into a room when I was 5 or 6 and say ‘Hey dad.’ He would say ‘Son! Project your voice! Chest back, shoulders out. Let them know that you are in the room.’ Ok dad. This is what I grew up with, my dad never hit me but his voice could scare the pope. If I knew that my dad was mad at me, I did not want to reap that wrath of God when he got home. I loved him to death, he is not with me anymore. But I have never been trained, I did motivational speaking but I built it up like a tool. If you look at the first fight I did in 1996, it’s a completely different voice, it’s an evolutionary process.”

How long did it take you to create your own style?

“I said to myself that if I can’t create my own distinct style then I wasn’t going to do it. No disrespect to him but I didn’t want to be Frank Sinatra Jr. I didn’t want to be known as Michael Buffer’s brother. I had no interest in that, I manage Michael but I don’t ride his coattails. If I was going to stand out by myself, I needed to make my own mark in life. I would say over the course of 3 to 7 years, I was standing still for the first 3 years, but then I had this lion inside of me and I wanted to introduce the warriors the way that I would have wanted to be introduced. So I started to move, and I don’t know what I will do until I do it, but I know that octagon like a basketball player knows their half court. I know where I am all of the time. Like I said, it’s passion, the show is not about me, it’s about the fighters and the fans, and I am there to entertain them.”

On how much meeting Michael Buffer means to him:

“If I didn’t then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I started my first business at 19, I’ve always known how to make money. I’ve gone broke and I have made 7 figures, you have to know what it is like to fail before you succeed. Thank God me and Michael did meet for 2 reasons. First, I found my long-lost half brother, who I love dearly. I was able to get into sports entertainment, which I wouldn’t have if I didn’t meet Michael.”

What Bruce Buffer is grateful for:

“My family, my health and I have the attitude that I have.”

Embedded image credit: Instagram