In what was potentially the final fight of her UFC career, former women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg picked up what looked to be a dominant unanimous decision over the tough, gutsy, but overmatched Felicia Spencer. What frequently drew criticism and groans during the bout was perceived biased commentary in Spencer’s favor, or rather against Cyborg.
UFC play-by-play voice Jon Anik published a lengthy statement on his Instagram page addressing the heavy criticism directed towards the commentary of the UFC 240 co-main event, firstly disagreeing with the accusations of bias before steadfastly refuting claims that he and Joe Rogan were ordered to deliberately put one fighter over another.
“I have heard the criticism about the commentary in the Cris Cyborg-Felicia Spencer fight and felt the need to address it publicly, as we consider all feedback seriously,” Anik said. “In this instance, I would respectfully disagree with those who suggest there was any bias or lack of objectivity. We repeatedly gave Cyborg credit or her striking and execution. I even suggested she deserved at 10-8 margin in round 3.
“That said, a big part of the narrative in the fight was Spencer. Sure she lost all three rounds but she deserved credit for her ability to absorb punishment and keep pressing forward, her ability to rise to the occasion in just her 8th pro fight against an all-time great like Cyborg. Many fighters would have crumbled under that Cyborg pressure and she did not. Thus, she was given credit on the broadcast.
“But the notion that there is some promotional initiative to push one fighter over another is patently false and absurd,” Anik continued. “I have called 140+ shows for the UFC. Never once have I been given a directive like this.
“Personally, I have always had a great relationship with Cyborg and I hope Cris will read this and understand it is said with 100-percent veracity. I am hopefully she will re-sign with the UFC and get the rematch with Amanda Nunes.”
For what it’s worth, almost all of the criticism was not pointed at Anik, but rather analyst Joe Rogan. It was Rogan who repeatedly made overblown remarks about Cyborg’s cardio, which proved completely baseless when Cyborg had her best offensive moments in the final round. Rogan discussed how Cyborg was sitting on a stool at the end of round one, as if to further suggest she was fatigued. He was later corrected by Anik when he thought that this was a five-rounder, and that Cyborg’s pace potentially wouldn’t hold up for five rounds. Other comments about Cyborg’s confidence and weight cut also led to significant backlash against Rogan for what felt like a total misrepresentation of what actually happened.
But kudos (as ever) to Anik for responding to this issue, as it was one of the post-fight storylines knowing that Cyborg’s future with the UFC remains uncertain.
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