When talking about Bruce Buffer, I have an anecdote about him that I always make sure to interject at one point in the conversation. Always.
Back in 2000, my first gig in the mixed martial arts word was doing interviews and writing features for Buffer’s Let’s Rumble website. Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Kevin Randleman, whoever was big in the sport at the time, he was able to hook up the interview with a phone call, giving this boxing writer an immediate leap into MMA’s inner circle. But what I remember the most about that time is that Buffer not only paid well for content, but he always paid on time.
That’s good business. And it’s also the sign of a good man. 13 years later, Buffer remains the Voice of the Octagon, and in his upcoming biography “It’s Time!” (in stores on May 14) you’ll get a look at both sides of his life, whether it’s working in front of thousands announcing UFC events, cutting deals for his brother Michael and the iconic “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” phrase, or his life outside the public eye, where family and close friends are paramount.
“It’s a book about life,” said Buffer recently. “It’s kind of like ‘okay, you know me from the Octagon, you’ve seen me for 17 years; now it’s time I told you how I got here.’”
All personal biases toward my first MMA boss aside, it is a fascinating journey, not only of Buffer’s life, but the rise of the UFC that paralleled his time with the organization. There are plenty of MMA anecdotes and behind the scenes stories for the diehard fight fan, but the glimpses into his relationship with his parents are relevant to any reader, and those looking to take the next step into entrepreneurship would be well served checking out Buffer’s rise and his thoughts on the process. In fact, when asked why he decided this was the right time to write his story, delivering a motivational tome was part of the reason.
“People have asked me to write a book for a long time, and I figure that after 17 years of being in the Octagon, I’m so full of material and I realized that I’m starting to forget more than I can remember,” said Buffer. “And that, combined with my life, which I consider to be a success story in its own right, I wanted to write a book that was going to be motivational, so that the average person, whether they wanted to be the best CEO of a company, the best athlete, or the best busboy in a restaurant, my whole point of life is that we’re all created equal and that you pick a path. And your job is to be the best you can be on the path that you pick. I wanted to write something that let people know that if you dream about it and set your goals, you can achieve and be anything you want to be in life. That’s combined with all the stories in the book, which aren’t stories you’ll find on the internet. I wanted to have a book that has stories that are behind the scenes, with things that people want to know that they don’t normally get a chance to experience.”
Of course, with such a process comes the difficulty of being willing enough to reveal your life to the world. Buffer’s path was no different, with the chapter on his father’s illness and death particularly heartbreaking to read.
“When you’re writing a book that’s fiction, it’s a lot easier,” he said. “But when you’re writing a book about your life and your relationships, both business and personal, and your family and everything else, you have to be willing to literally open up your heart and your soul and your mind to release these thoughts that are going through your head. You’ve got to be willing to take that subliminal, emotional jump and give the reader what they deserve to read. Otherwise you’re just going to write a very stale book. It’s kind of a cathartic experience because you’ve actually released yourself of what you’ve been holding in all these years. It was an amazing experience.”
And just the latest in a series of them for Buffer, who also became the first ring announcer to release his own mobile phone app earlier this year. But the way he sees it, it was never just about being a ring announcer.
“I’m very proud about what I’ve done because I never wanted to be just a ring announcer, with all respect to ring announcers,” he said. “When I started this in 1992, I was making a lot of money. I had a beach house, I had a great lifestyle, but I was not passionate about what I was doing. My thing with Michael was, I’m gonna take you and make you richer and more famous than you ever dreamed and that I wanted to trademark properly those five words of air and create all those video games and toys. I wrote pages of notes, and when I told him about this, his reaction was similar to ‘how are you going to do that?’ I said I don’t know, I’ll figure it out.”
He did, and now he’s doing the same thing for his own brand.
“I took all the learning principles that I acquired over those years and I’m basically applying the same principles to my career because to me all business is the same; it’s just the product that’s different. In this case, I’m the product.”
But when it’s all said and done, for Bruce Buffer, there’s still nothing quite like fight night in the UFC.
“I’m a kid in a candy store because I love what I do,” he said. “It’s a passion for me, and every night that I walk into that Octagon to me is a new night that I need to do the best job I can.”
Bruce Buffer: The Voice of The Octagon Takes to the Printed Page
"It’s a book about life. It’s kind of like ‘okay, you know me from the Octagon, you’ve seen me for 17 years; now it’s time I told you how I got here.'" - Bruce Buffer