MMA media can do better
One of many things a specific MMA promotion gave me grief for was not reaching out to them when I reported something critical of the promotion. After that, I did my best to remember to contact them and other fight promotions when reporting on their doings. I tried to make the same effort in opinion pieces when applicable. I say tried because I don’t know if I always did so, but I know that more often than not, I reached out. Again, this was after I got an earful. So, I guess, lesson learned, and you know, it was a good lesson because it made the items I filed more complete.
I bring this up because, far too often, MMA media fails to get a response from parties that should be forced to comment on particular situations.
There are two recent examples I would like to discuss. Both have to do with weight cuts and, therefore, fighter health and safety. When it comes to fighter health and safety, the promotions and the athletic commissions should both have a vested interest in these subjects.
The first example came in the lead-up to UFC 291. During his pre-fight media engagement, heavyweight fighter Derrick Lewis had the following to say, as reported by many MMA sites:
“I cut like 25 pounds in three days, not eating, just drinking water — probably just a little something to eat. It was a big eye-opener, and it was in the back of my head during the fight. I felt like I actually died, and I was thinking about all of the other fighters who went through that — they blacked out, came back, and couldn’t fight. They didn’t let the fighter fight. Good thing it happened at the [UFC Performance Institute], and they gave me everything I needed to get up and walk out of there. It was a very scary moment.”
What was lacking in every report I saw — and I looked at most of the big-name MMA sites — was any attempt to get the UFC to comment on Lewis’ claims. What made things worse was that Lewis made his proclamation during a UFC media event where a UFC PR rep was almost assuredly on hand. Further, since the fight Lewis discussed took place in Las Vegas, the Nevada State Athletic Commission should have been asked to comment. I saw one site, MMANews, contact the NSAC for comment.
The second incident occurred after the UFC on ESPN 50 card took place. As in the case of Lewis, this was a weight-cutting incident. The fighter in question was Jake Hadley, who wrote on social media:
“Lost the fight few things went wrong before the fight I almost died during the weight cut I actually saw God for a second. couldn’t rehydrate like normal felt like that had a major effect on my performance because I couldn’t push like normal anyone who knows me knows I never gas.”*
Hadley’s weight-cutting situation happened in Nashville, Tennessee. As such, MMA media members who reported on Hadley’s issues — and again, there were many — should have contacted the UFC and the Tennessee Athletic Commission. I could not find a single incident where a site did so.
I’m not pointing fingers here. It seems like that’s the case, and as was recently pointed out to me, my reputation as a “curmudgeon” and “troublemaker” doesn’t give me the benefit of the doubt in making that claim. In my defense, I’m coming at this as someone who got slapped around by a high-up in the aforementioned unnamed MMA promotion for not reaching out to them for a comment. With that, I defend myself as someone looking for the MMA media to deliver a complete story and hold the powers that be to account, which reaching out for comment does.
That’s not to say that the athletic commission or the UFC will respond. The odds are high that neither will do so, but just taking the step to reach out and reporting that one took that step lets readers, fighters, and promoters know that the media is keeping an eye on these situations and that they will not let them slip by without comment. The next step would be to put these questions toward someone like UFC president Dana White when he holds court after a UFC event.
The MMA media needs to do better on this front. Neglecting to reach out to the promotion and/or the athletic commission makes the MMA media look like a transcription service rather than journalists.
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