Jon Anik’s UFC contract runs until 2026, and he hopes to renew.
Recent accusations of bias from angry UFC fans haven’t changed his timeline for remaining in the sport. He’d like it to change the way he reacts to those fans on social media, though.
One week after Anik’s impassioned retort to MMA fans who attacked him for scoring the UFC 297 headliner for Dricus du Plessis over Sean Strickland, the longtime UFC play-by-play man said he learned a lesson about when and what to engage online.
It was not an employer-mandated lesson, he adds.
“I think for me as a play-by-play guy, when there are myriad allegations of bias, or people suggesting that there’s a lack of objectivity, I got sensitive to that, but I shouldn’t,” Anik told MMA Fighting. “I’m certainly not sensitive to personal attacks and things like that. I really need to not be sensitive to allegations of bias, because 95 percent of the fan base felt like it was an even call and actually felt like at least half the fan base felt like Dricus du Plessis won the fight.
“But as Bill Belichick would say, it kind of is what it is. And as one of my ESPN radio colleagues texted me there, there ain’t no rainbows without some rain. So it is what it is. Thankfully, I have the support of the UFC, and I guess most importantly, I have the support of the roster, thankfully.”
Anik issued a formal apology on social media after calling out “malice and disrespect from the fan base,” saying he was in a “heightened emotional state” after allegations of bias toward du Plessis. He said he needed “to be more responsible on an open microphone,” though he said he would continue to be accessible to fans.
The response to Anik’s initial criticism was overwhelmingly positive, with many fighters and industry vets pointing out his contributions to the sport. Others acknowledged the often-toxic nature of online criticism, bolstering the UFC commentator’s observation that it has gotten worse in recent years.
When Anik apologized, many believed it was at the urging of his employer. But behind the scenes, he said he received nothing but support from the UFC and executives. He said the free speech that’s espoused for fighters on the UFC platform also extends to the commentary team.
“I am so thankful that there is not a double standard, right? … If you look at some of my tweets wondering aloud why a certain man or woman maybe isn’t getting a title fight, right, some people might think why would the lead play-by-play voice of the UFC be uttering that in a public space. But I have never been muzzled. I have never been censored, and when I talked to my boss, Craig Borsari, about all of this, there was nothing suggestive coming out of his mouth. It was all support.
“So I’m very thankful that, even when my opinion maybe disagrees with the promotion, that they still allow me to voice my opinion, because I try to do it in a thoughtful way, and a respectful way. And that’s why I think maybe that that I am afforded that leash. But that’s one thing that I am supremely grateful for, because from day one, I remember Dana White pulling me into his office saying, ‘We didn’t hire you to be Joe Rogan or Mike Goldberg or anybody else — we want you to be you,’ and that’s held true since January 20th, 2012. A lot of people look at my statement as some sort of UFC-led, impulsive decision, and it certainly was not that.”
As disillusioned as he sounded, Anik said he has “thicker skin than maybe I led on in that emotional moment” on his podcast. He said he may be more thoughtful about the people he interacts with in the future, but the criticism he received hasn’t changed his mission.
“I hope they extend my contract at the end of this contract, October 2026,” he said. “If you want the exact date, I’ll be 15 years in, man. This is my life’s work. I’m not going to be that guy who sticks around forever and prevents a young guy from getting an opportunity. I’d be very surprised if I’m doing this in to my sixties, even if it is the greatest job on earth. But I have no intention of leaving in 2026.
“I think for a guy like me who grew up a New England Patriots season ticket holder in the 1980s when they were the laughing stock of the NFL, there will always be that NFL pull, but I don’t know if I can say it any more clearly — I have the job I want, and every Saturday night, I can assure you I’ve got to earn it, because they can terminate me without cause at any time.”