The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
When my colleague and friend Jason Sutcliffe approached me and proposed the idea of starting an MMA based publication, I had some concerns. Chiefly, writing about a sport that many members of the media still viewed it as barbaric – the human equivalent of cockfighting. I wanted to stake my claim as a writer and honestly believed my association with the sport would hinder my long-term journalistic ambitions.
So I sat on it for a few weeks. I partook in the initial development of the publication, but didn’t treat as a legitimate career path, more of a hobby or an opportunity to expand my portfolio.
However, I came to realization that passion should always outweigh logic. Listen, I am an absolute sport nut, however, there is nothing out there that comes close to evoking the emotions that MMA brings out of me. I’ve skipped out on massive parties, job opportunities and family functions to see personal heroes of mine achieve their dream.
Michael Bisping winning the middleweight championship on Saturday night is personally on par with watching the Toronto Maple Leafs carry the Stanley Cup down Yonge Street. This sport means everything to me.
The respect isn’t specific to fighters, it stretches to the first wave of MMA journalists, writers who have helped motivate me to create a platform rooted through personal passion. They legitimized the sport, they made it authentic and helped usher it to the mainstream discussion of sport.
Truth be told, there are is a crop of well respected MMA based journalists who have carved impressive careers in the landscape of this rapidly growing sport. Writers like Kevin Iole of Yahoo, Ben Fowlkesof MMA Junkie, Eric Stinton of Sherdog are a few people who I respect to the fullest degree.
However, the number one journalists who motivated me to dive head first in the world of MMA is Ariel Helwani. An individual who I honestly believe is on par with sport insiders such as Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski and Jay Galzer. I would not be writing this sentence if it wasn’t for Ariel.
Not only did he open doors for many MMA journalists, but as stated earlier, he made the sport a real tangible entity. His work on the MMA Hour, his inside scoops on his twitter feed, his insightful and analytical questions at press conferences invigorated my motivation to become an MMA journalist.
I’m not going to bore you with the specific details of the UFC/Ariel Helwani feud, but the fact of the matter is that he was doing his job. He had an inside scoop, he had two confirmed sources, and subsequently posted the story.
However, I will leave you with this. As a representative of the second wave of MMA journalism, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you Ariel Helwani. This website would not exist if it wasn’t for you. The UFC needs to reexamine their relationship with the media because the sport is not the same without you.