Eight years ago I was given an unexpected opportunity to take over MMATorch. PWTorch founder and MMATorch Supervising Editor Wade Keller saw potential in a 22-year-old contributor leaving college to head up a revitalized effort to cover this sport, and I jumped at the chance to dive into a highly intriguing project. It became a full-time gig around the time my first daughter was born, and for six and a half years it’s been a fascinating, fulfilling, at times frustrating, and yet fantastically entertaining position.
Next Saturday night, I say goodbye.
I’ll be making a career change this week, accepting a new position outside of the MMA and publishing world, and will be finishing out my time on the site with live coverage of next weekend’s UFC 202 event. You’ve likely noticed some new contributors making their mark on the site in the last week, writers who will be taking the reins on the site moving forward under Wade, and I hope to see them come into their own to keep MMATorch alive as a go-to source for MMA news, opinion, and analysis as the sport continues to expand.
Some of our new faces are experienced writers coming into a new outlet, some are getting their start and will continue to grow as they gain further experience. I have confidence they and the site will continue to be worth your time and attention, and hope to see them have success with this opportunity.
I’m very proud of the work we’ve done at MMATorch since I came on in May of 2008, and it’s somewhat astounding to me how much things have changed in the MMA world during my tenure. I came onto the scene as MMA was hitting network television for the first time with EliteXC on CBS, when Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre were about to take over as massive pay-per-view draws, before Strikeforce became a legitimate competitor to the UFC, before Bellator launched as an organization, when the WEC still had fighters above the lightweight division. In the years since, I’ve seen several record years of business from the UFC lead to a mind-blowing and potentially landscape-changing $4billion sale. I’ve seen the rise and fall of several competitors, bringing more and more of the world’s top fighters under one umbrella. I’ve seen the decline of massive stars give way to the emergence of others. I’ve seen women’s MMA come to prominence on a major stage, and to be held at its highest levels on par with their male counterparts. I’ve seen historic fights, mind-blowing finishes, and some of the most gifted fighters to ever compete in the sport.
It’s been a position like no other I’ve ever held, and I’m grateful for all I’ve been able to do and accomplish in this job. From the fighters and personalities I’ve had the opportunity to speak with, the events I’ve had the pleasure of covering in person, to the experience I’ve gained as a writer, and more, this wild ride has been incredible. On that end, I have some thank you’s to offer:
To the readers: Thank you to everyone who has read what I’ve written over these last eight years. Whether you’ve followed our live reports, my editorials, or my analysis on MMA news in general, I can’t express enough how grateful I am for your time and attention. Whether you agreed with what I’ve had to say or not, I thank you for your engagement and for following the sport along with us here.
To Wade: This was a life-changing opportunity, and I’m a better writer, editor, and person because of what I’ve learned under you here. I have the utmost respect for your unyielding work ethic, your brilliant analytical abilities, and for the brand you’ve built over the last 29 years, and I’m glad to know you as a mentor and friend in this field. I wish you continued success with the Torch moving forward.
To Rich Hansen: From longtime listener/first time caller to my closest confidant and best of friends, you’ve been the greatest asset I could have asked for over these last several years, and I couldn’t thank you enough. Yours is a voice unmatched, and you’ve been endlessly entertaining (well, at least to me) in the way you look at this sport. I’ll be seeing you soon.
To Shawn Ennis: You’re one of the kindest, smartest men I know in this game, and it’s only a shame you haven’t had the time you once had to opine on the sport. You were instrumental in bringing me to speed on things when I began this gig, and it’s been fantastic to have you back in the fold to speak with on the podcast every (ok not quite every) week.
To Dan Moore: Another highly intelligent man whose takes have been missed. You have been a great representative for the site on scene when the UFC has made it your way in Europe, and if you find the time again to write about the sport I hope you do. Yours is a needed and beneficial voice in this space, and whether it’s here or elsewhere I hope to read your takes again in the future.
To Frank Hyden: Your tenure on this site is even longer than mine, and your always consistent contributions have been very much appreciated. From roundtables to your weekly pieces, I knew I could always count on your work week in and week out, and I thank you greatly for that.
I also want to thank all of the contributors who have worked under me past and present here on the site. Your help has been greatly appreciated throughout these last eight years, and I hope all are doing well and continue to do well in the future.
You’ll see pieces from me intermittently throughout this last week leading into UFC 202, and I hope you’ll tune in for my final live event report on next weekend’s fight card. I’ve greatly enjoyed my time covering this sport, but for me and my family it’s time for me to move on to this new opportunity and away from the endless MMA grind. Thank you again for reading; if you’d like to keep up with me away from the Torch, feel free to follow me on Twitter @JamiePenick!