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Thursday, October 06, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- There will be no UFC coverage on Ivan's Blog this week because I am honoring the one-week UFC blackout that has been established by all of the major MMA web sites (well, almost all of them...). The one-week blackout is a show of solidarity among the MMA media. If you want to know what caused the need for such a show of solidarity in the first place, click this link: MMA Media Denied Credentials to UFC 55.
If this was just a case of Zuffa trying to restrict smaller sites from clogging up press row or being unprofessional, that might be understandable. However, when Zuffa is denying credentials to the top three MMA publications in the United States (MMAWeekly, Full Contact Fighter, and Sherdog), that removes any semblance of legitimacy that Zuffa's decision might have had.
Before I get into this any further, I want to recommend two articles that you should read if you want to know more about this situation. The first article is written by Jake Rossen and is called Memos from Media Purgatory, while the second one is by Greg Savage and is called The Silent Treatment.
In addition to all of the points made in those two articles, there are a lot of other facets to this story. Many of them have been asked on the MMAWeekly Forum or have been sent to me via e-mail. I will now summarize my responses to all of these questions, many of which are simply dispelling various theories that people have come up with about why this may be happening.
First of all, the denial of media credentials to MMA publications has absolutely nothing to do with any deluge of mainstream media requests for credentials to attend UFC events. The notion that the MMA media is being denied simply because there aren't enough seats for the MMA media AND the mainstream media is simply false, nor has there even been a huge increase in mainstream media requests lately.
In terms of what exactly Zuffa's decision entails, the company did not just deny some kind of "premium credential" that is only for ringside seats (as some have speculated on the Underground Forum)... they denied press credentials of any kind. This also goes far beyond the issue of journalists being able to sit in press row, as it's also about journalists getting backstage access in order to do interviews with fighters, be there to cover events as they unfold, etc.
Additionally, the writing experience of individual journalists in fields outside of MMA has absolutely nothing to do with the legitimate, well-established "was-covering-the-UFC-before-it-was-even-owned-by-Zuffa" media having its credentials denied. I understand the natural reaction that people are having that there must be SOME reasonable explanation for the UFC's actions, but that is not necessarily the case.
An article on a web site that is not participating in the one-week blackout of UFC coverage tried to present this issue as if it were legitimately about the credentials of any given publication, an argument that doesn't stand up for two seconds when you consider that the top three MMA publications were all denied.
The same article also attempted to make the point that perhaps Zuffa was concerned with some web sites sponsorsing UFC fighters, which has been going on since the early days of the UFC's existence. It's quite telling that in the same article, it mentions the fact that Grappling Magazine sponsors MMA events in the Midwest, but it forgets to add that Grappling Magazine still has its media credentials for UFC events. Of course, that would only be relevant if any of this really had anything to do with conflicts of interest or any other legitimate criteria, which is what that article certainly wants you to believe.
Again, I highly recommend that you read the article by Jake Rossen, which is very incisive on the issue of how dangerous it is to have a sports company that controls its own media.
I also highly recommend the article by Greg Savage, which includes the point that he might be able to believe that the denial of media credentials had something to do with Zuffa wanting more professionalism in press row... if it weren't for the fact that the major, reputable MMA publications were also denied. That should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not this turn of events really has anything do with who is "professional" and who is "not professional."
I will continue to cover any UFC-related news that comes up starting next week on MMAWeekly and Ivan's Blog, but there will be no coverage of the UFC on Ivan's Blog until then because I am honoring the one-week media blackout.
Labels: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), UFC News, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
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