Bruce Buffer Interview: UFC Icon Talks Poker, MMA Greats, and Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane

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Bruce Buffer Interview: UFC Icon Talks Poker, MMA Greats, and Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane

The PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) is a big deal. As well as poker pros and Platinum Pass winners anteing up in the Bahamas, celebrities have flown in for a shot at $4 million. 

One of the biggest names (and voices) taking part in the $25,000 tournament was UFC announcer Bruce Buffer. 

The Voice of the Octagon opened the show with a rousing speech before jumping into the action. 

Unfortunately, he couldn’t fight through the 1,014 entrants on Day 1, which meant he didn’t hear the final bell. However, his demise gave the chance to catch up with Buffer and talk poker, fighting, and whiskey.

Bruce Buffer Has Been Bluffing for Decades

Before we probed Buffer for the inside scope on Jon Jones’ highly anticipated comeback at UFC 285, we wanted to know how long he’s been a poker fan. 

“My dad taught me to play poker when I was a boy, so I’ve been playing cash games since I was young,” Buffer told "Back then, it was Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw."

It wasn’t just poker that Buffer learned from a young age. His dad clearly wanted him to appreciate the power of critical thinking and logic, as well as the potential pitfalls of gambling. 

“My dad also taught me how to play blackjack, which I’ve played a lot of over the years,” Buffer said. "He taught me about horse racing and said the only way to follow a horse is with a shovel, so don’t bet on them. That’s why I’ve mainly stuck to poker and blackjack."

Poker and blackjack certainly have similarities. Although the former sits more towards the skill end of the gambling spectrum, logic and making calculated moves are important in both. Buffer loves these qualities because they give him new ways to test himself.

“I’m a very competitive person. I’ve been very competitive athletically all my life," he said. "Now that I’m older, I can apply the same principles of competition at the poker table.” 

Competition Keeps Bruce Buffer Fired Up

Of course, we all know poker isn’t all about skill. There are times when the right moves produce the wrong result. However, for Buffer, it’s this combination of skill, luck, and uncertainty that makes the game exciting. For him, poker is a battlefield that he loves competing on. 

“Poker is a form of competition for me and it fulfills a passion," he said. "I need that competition. I need that one-on-one. I used to fight, but I don’t anymore. I used to surf big waves and all that stuff, but I’m 65 now. So I love testing myself on the green battlefield of champions.” 

The UFC announcer’s passion for poker was palpable. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising he jumped at the chance to ante up in the biggest $25,000 poker tournament of the year. 

However, before he put himself to the test, Buffer did what he does best. That meant taking the microphone and delivering a rousing speech that would have rallied even the most socially awkward poker players. 

“It was a big feeling announcing the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship. It was amazing to be there,” said Buffer. 

That’s a bold statement, given Buffer is routinely involved in MMA’s biggest events. Those events, he told us, are the fuel that keeps his fire burning. 

“Being in front of 20,000+ people in Brazil or the 02 Arena in London, and with millions of eyeballs watching on TV, is one of the most unbelievable things you can experience as an announcer,” Buffer said. 

Special Moments at PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship

We can’t argue with that. The UFC is a global powerhouse, and its events are among the best in sport. However, what PokerStars has put on in the Bahamas rivals anything we’ve seen in poker and sport in general. The atmosphere, the organization, and a $24 million prize pool are all markers of a world-class event. That’s something Buffer agrees with. 

“To walk out in front of everyone at the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship, knowing I was going to jump in the tournament and play, was a special moment for me," Buffer said. "Poker is a passion, so it was something to tick off my bucket list. I loved it.”  

The problem with poker is that it doesn’t care about your feelings. Poker doesn’t care whether you’re a skilled player or not. If the poker gods aren’t on your side, winning is almost impossible. 

Bruce Buffer found that out when he was eliminated from the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship. Despite missing out on a top prize of $4 million, he loved every minute of the event. 

“This event is an amazing melting pot of players from all over the world," he said. "We’re here in the Bahamas, one of the most beautiful areas in the world. PokerStars is a class act, they do everything first-class. They’re the leading online poker organization in the world, but they have these grand live events that show everyone poker is here, and it’s better than ever.” 

Buffer called the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship an “event” rather than a tournament, and we agree. Yes, the $25,000 tournament was a huge success. Over 400 Platinum Pass winners joined pros and celebrities to create a field of 1,014 entrants. That turnout means someone will win the title and $4 million. But everything surrounding the tournament, from the exotic location to fun activities such as flamingo yoga, has made the PSPC an event.

Bruce Buffer is a fan of what PokerStars is doing, and he wants more. He’s aiming to compete at EPT Barcelona and EPT Monte Carlo, if his schedule permits. That’s not only a testament to his love of poker but the hard work PokerStars has put in to make its events appealing to players at every level. 

Bruce Buffer’s Memorable MMA Moments

Of course, we’ll only see Buffer at the felt when he’s not announcing UFC events. With that in mind, we couldn’t let him go without asking about MMA. 

He’s been announcing UFC fights for 27 years, so choosing his favorite moment is tough. But, as he told us, some walkouts stand out more than others. 

“When Conor McGregor walked out with Sinead O’Conner singing at UFC 189, that was one of the most amazing walkouts ever," he said. "It’s unheralded. I’m not sure if it’s ever been equaled yet.” 

Walkouts aside, we wanted to know who Buffer rates as fighters. Understandably, there isn’t a single person or moment that gets his vote. 

“I’ve been doing this for 27 years, so it’s hard for me to say who the greatest fighter is because I’ve seen all of them," he said. "I’ve probably forgotten more than I can remember.

“Every time I think I’ve seen the greatest fight, two months later, I’ve seen one better, so you have to appreciate all of these moments for what they are. Having so many amazing nights in the past and more to look forward to really fuels my fire.” 

Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane Prediction

Before we gave Buffer a much-needed break from talking, we had to get his thoughts on Jon Jones. The former light heavyweight champion has been out of the game for almost three years pending a return at heavyweight. Now 40 pounds heavier, Jones will return at UFC 285 to take on Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title. 

Sports betting fans know it’s a tough fight to predict, and Buffer kept his cards close to his chest when asked for a prediction. However, he knows it will be an amazing night on March 4.

“I think we’re going to be amazed by Jon Jones," Buffer said. "Win or lose, spending all that time bulking up to heavyweight is an amazing achievement on his part. I think he’s going to do a great job. Win or lose, I think we’ll see a very special fight. And, if he wins, his GOAT status is solidified.” 

With that, the UFC icon went off to enjoy the Bahamian sunshine, but not before reminding us that he’s got a whole raft of new products coming out. As well as a cologne and toiletry line, the It’s Time brand is putting out new energy and nutritional products. 

And, for those who like a drink, Bruce Buffer’s bourbon, Puncher’s Chance, is being released in the UK. Winner of six gold medals and rated among the top five sipping whiskeys in America, Puncher’s Chance is Buffer’s attempt to take down Conor McGregor’s famous drink.

“I love Conor, but I’ve got to show him how to do it the proper way,” Buffer concluded. 

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