Fox Sports 1 is part the UFC establishment, but not a reliable source
The success of UFC 202 has drawn a near hyperbolic level of acclaim from the sports media establishment, but how much stock should be placed in the current unofficial UFC spokesman?
In the wake of the much lauded bout between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz at UFC 202, praise has come in from several corners of the mainstream sports media; in particular, praise has been heaped on by the popular and polarizing Fox Sports radio host Colin Cowherd.
“Best fight I’ve seen, maybe in 20 years,” Cowherd proclaimed on his nationally syndicated radio show, “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” The show happens to also be simulcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
The problem here lies not so much in what Cowherd said, but from where he said it.
Since the announcement of the partnership between UFC and Fox in 2011, the two entities have done little to differentiate themselves from each other.
The network has even gone so far as to remove venerated MMA journalist Ariel Helwani from all of its UFC television coverage at the behest of the UFC.
Ironically, exactly one month after Helwani announced his departure from Fox, Cowherd claimed to have “intel” that Conor McGregor would be facing boxer Floyd Mayweather in September.
In the time since, Helwani had his media credentials removed and later reinstated, likely for accurate reporting.
Meanwhile, “The Herd” continues to be a regular interview spot for notable UFC personalities.
Despite being a source of false reporting, “The Herd” is a central component of the Fox/UFC partnership.
None of this implies that Cowherd covers UFC strictly because of network affiliation. (He was somewhat a lone wolf with his UFC coverage while at ESPN.)
However, Fox properties do not seem to have a standard of truthfulness when it comes to UFC coverage.
FS1 may feature an extensive amount of UFC coverage, but they are not a destination source for news regarding the sport.
The decision of Fox to remove any journalistic elements from its coverage of UFC has enabled the voices of Cowherd, and sudden UFC convert Skip Bayless, to be the most visible agenda setters for the network.
Even the UFC itself seems to use other news outlets to break major stories.
For instance, the announcement of Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 opponent was strategically made on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
By utilizing ESPN instead of FS1 for big announcements, the UFC is passively admitting that FS1’s UFC coverage is contained within the UFC bubble.
For at least the next two years, FS1 will provide extensive UFC coverage, with or likely without any substantive original reporting.
WhatCulture Launches MMA YouTube Channel
WhatCulture.com recently launched a YouTube channel dedicated exclusively to MMA.
WhatCulture MMA looks to be a spinoff to the popular WhatCulture Wrestling channel.
Thus far the channel has featured the familiar “Top 10” lists along with “roundtable” discussions featuring primary contributors Tom Ransom and Joe Hendry.
By their own admission, the channel will not be an extensive look into MMA, but rather on overview of culturally relevant MMA topics.
The MMA channel will have to live up to the lofty standards of its wrestling channel.
However, if the same amount of effort is put into the MMA channel, it can serve as a destination for casual MMA fans.
Alaska Fighting Championship added to UFC Fight Pass
On Wednesday, Sept. 28 UFC Fight Pass will air AFC 125 as part of its new agreement with Alaska Fighting Championship.
According to UFC.com, the entire AFC library will also be made available on UFC Fight Pass.
Alaska Fighting Championship was founded in 2004 and previously aired on Go Fight Live.
CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S “BUSINESS & MEDIA” COLUMN:
MEDIA & BUSINESS: McGregor beats Diaz but does not top himself, McGregor beats Lesnar for payday, MMA in Olympics
(Robert Vallejos writes a new Specialist column for MMATorch titled “Media & Business” focused on, you guessed it, the media coverage of MMA and the business side of MMA. He is fascinated by the presentation, business decisions, media strategy, and press coverage of both UFC and MMA as a whole, and will bring that curiosity to explore and delve into that side of MMA to his weekly Specialist column here at MMATorch. He explains his approach: “As a sport in its relative infancy, MMA does not receive the same level of scrutiny and informed analysis from the sports media as other more established entities. This is why it is vital for independent outlets such MMATorch to grow, while featuring a variety of voices. Unlike mainstream outlets, MMATorch is not beholden to any organization. Therefore I believe it is essential for individuals such as myself to explain not only the ‘what’ but also the ‘why’ of MMA.”)