Abu Dhabi, UAE — Veteran UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik is nine years into his tenure with the promotion, but the latest stint on Fight Island has been a new experience. One he almost didn’t have.
A positive COVID-19 test certainly threw a wrench in the works. “I’ve never heard my boss so Craig Borsari so excited when he called me and told me my next test was negative,” Anik told media outlets ahead of UFC 254. “I turned around a couple more negatives, and here we are. So far so good this week. But there’s definitely some emotions that come back when they’re sticking that thing down my throat.”
Still, Anik is ready to go for one of the biggest cards of the year. “You want to work the big shows. That’s really what it’s all about,” admitted Anik, who added that he cut his teeth on some of the smaller shows, what he called “the bottom half of the roster, for lack of a better term” earlier in his career.
After a 14-day mandatory medical quarantine, and the knowledge that he’ll need to produce a couple more negative COVID-19 tests to get home to his children, Anik said that this Fight Island run “was anxiety-filled for sure. I think these things harden you, and really just make you mentally tough.”
As for the main event, Anik is as eager as any fan to see Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje play out. “Khabib’s legacy, a lot of it’s rooted in being undefeated. As such, he puts it on the line every time he competes. That is tremendous pressure,” observed Anik. “If any athlete is tough enough to rise above it, it’s him. He’s been largely immune to pressure. But I do think that this match-up, it will either bring up the best in him, or he’ll finally meet his match.”
UFC 254 takes place on “Fight Island” (Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi at the Flash Forum on Saturday, October 24. The main card airs live on PPV following televised and online prelims.