Mike Goldberg has been the lead play-by-play announcer for UFC events since 1997. Alongside commentating partner Joe Rogan, Goldberg has called thousands of memorable Octagon moments. But of all the incredible UFC fights he's seen, one still stands out among the rest: Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson in the five-round main event of UFC 139.
I have been blessed to see so many amazing fights - from knockouts to five round battles to great comebacks. But if you look at the Shogun-Henderson fight in San Jose, that was just a battle between two true legends of mixed martial arts. Click here to order Shogun vs. Hendo from UFC 139
For Shogun to take the beating he took from Hendo early on and be able to withstand it is amazing. Then he had Hendo in full mount the entire 5th round but was just too exhausted to finish him, while Hendo on the other hand had just enough in the tank not to be finished. That was a fight.
I compare it to when Chuck [Liddell]and Wanderlei [Silva] finally fought -- it was one of those fights that was supposed to happen in PRIDE, and then it was supposed to happen years ago in the UFC, but Hendo ended up going to Strikeforce. Then a little bit later we ended up buying Strikeforce. So it was a fight that MMA fans and UFC fans waited so many years for. Not only did it live up to the billing but it exceeded the billing.
With Shogun and Hendo in San Jose, that was just a night of great things
– a great venue and a great night of fights. Before Shogun and
Henderson stepped into the Octagon, Wanderlei and Cung Le had an awesome
battle. And that was another fight where two other legends put on a
But there’s a certain time while Joe and I are calling the fights that all of a sudden we just become two fans and we get excited like two kids. You could definitely say that Forrest [Griffin] and Stephan [Bonnar] was another one of those fights [at the first-ever TUF Finale]. We kind of sit back and almost want to get out of the way and soak it all in as the crowd reacts. Georges [St-Pierre] and Carlos [Condit] was a recent example of that as well.
In those situations Joe and I really become fans. We will look over at Dana and Lorenzo like “WOAH!” then you start to see them react and almost turn into kids. Then you have legends and dignitaries of UFC in those first couple of rows starting to become kids and loving the action inside the cage. Everybody just becomes a fan, Joe and I included.
So fights like that – we just become two more fans who feel like we are sitting at a bar or in the stands with all the other fans, but we just happen to be talking so people can hear us. Those kinds of fights aren’t work. Those are the last-minute field goals at the Super Bowl. Those fight call themselves.