My passion to maintain a label as a member of the media flatlined. The cause of death wasn’t specific to one isolated event. Instead of a single, devastating knockout blow, I was slowly suffocated by a constriction of annoying incidents I encountered while chasing cages across California.
Many situations crossing my path were minor and instantly brushed off; whereas, others permanently stained my perception of the sport. From an assortment of folks I came face-to-face with—either online or in the flesh, an eyewitness account of how the fight business functions, the constant need to update and generate content for a website, and how I struggled immensely to find a groove, I compiled a list of fifty-four items that have driven me away from wanting to act as “media guy” for norcalmixedmartialarts.com any longer.
As much as MMA revs my engine, its inner-workings grind my gears.
1. My Type-A personality and MMA mix like oil and water.
2. In my book, being early is on-time; if you’re on-time, you are, in fact, late. Outside of MMA events broadcasted on live TV or through a pay-per-view stream, MMA is always fashionably late.
3. Time away from family. MMA has no off-season.
4. Sometimes, I think I’d prefer to be locked in a cage with a professional face-puncher than the driver’s seat, having my nerves frayed to stubs because of the other drivers on the road. The distance between me and a nearby event was vast; therefore, I’d count my blessings each time I arrived to the venue with my safety, and sanity, still in tact.
5. Even armed with GPS, I can struggle to find my way out of a wet paper sack. Needless to say, I’d kiss my seat on media row like passengers of an airplane, following a nerve-racking landing, locking lips with the ground they thought they may never meet again.
6. The day after covering a local show, a zombie apocalypse would crawl under my skin and invade my ability to function with any sort of normalcy.
7. I drained the red ink out of many pens, correcting the spelling or grammar printed on posters, social media, other websites, or anywhere else.
8. I spent way too much time watching others attain their fitness goals while I should have been focusing about my own.
9. When members of the media are gathered under the same roof, everyone attempts to embody friendship—then, competition seeps in. I have a very competitive spirit, so when I begin participating in the rat race, the hobby transforms into the semblance of a job—and I quit.
10. I find humor in MMA—usually to distract me from the side of the sport that’s saddening when analyzed too thoroughly. Memes are a great way to shed light on a heavy situations. Unfortunately, jokes don’t always jive with everyone. If you choose to make memes, there will be battered feelings—trust me.
I’m Not the News Guy I Thought I Could Be
I am an avid MMA fan who stumbled, somehow, into a role as a media personality, delivering coverage throughout Northern California, and I’m ready to revert back.
11. I appreciate routines, finding a comfortable rhythm to hum along to through repetition, but so many facets of reporting MMA require more copying and pasting than anything else. Originality in a sport that’s only twenty-five-years-old is few and far between.
12. There was a larger sector of MMA’s faithful following—at least more than I anticipated there would be—who were indoctrinated with the belief: If you aren’t a practitioner of martial arts, mixed or otherwise, you have no validity.
13. Investing countless hours on issues aside from what fueled my intent to further the sport, such as technological hiccups, on-the-fly problems solving, making corrections to content, updating the site, and much more than I thought would be the case.
14. Technological issues: trouble connecting to Wi-Fi, the site not uploading content as it should, some piece of hardware that has worked previously has decided to stop functioning properly; the range of problems requiring attention, at the exact moment you need them, never ceased to amaze me.
15. Cancelled podcasts. Things happen, but I would have published upwards of 300 NorCal MMA episodes, versus the 216 actually posted, had scheduled guests not flaked on me.
16. On multiple occasions, I witnessed the perception of others and the reality of a particular situation clash in the center of a proverbial cage.
17. Parroting others isn’t my style.
18. Falling victim to the creation of click-bait in hopes of remaining relevant; luckily, I saw the error of my ways.
19. My inbox would be stuffed with messages that simply stated, “call me,” because the individual on the other end had a marvel idea that was sure to turn the sport upside-down, and they couldn’t risk it being stolen by hackers. Of course, the other possibility for a “call me” message with zero context could have been some level of displeasure with something I did, though the latter was much more rare.
20. In MMA, your striking and grappling will get you somewhere, but popularity can catapult a competitor into another plane. Media outlets in hopes of accumulating loads of precious clicks are on a never-ending treasure hunt for the next diamond in the rough. Even after hitting pay dirt, they immediately return to the mines with their hardhat in hand.
21. There are so many names to remember; they all begin to jumble around as a violent game of boggle in my mind.
22. Instead of being an actual MMA journalist, you become a glorified cheerleader, rallying the masses to line the pocketbooks of the wrong people.
The Hurt Business Can Be A Painful Investment
If you thought the cage was a volatile place, try finding success in the fight game’s niche marketplace. I didn’t study business in college, but I can attest to a lot of the wheeling-and-dealing that isn’t suggested within the confines of any textbook.
23. Any visible practices embodied by established promotions at the sport’s pinnacle, such as the UFC, Bellator, and several others, trickle down to the local level.
24. Promoters who act like their product is the greatest thing to ever grace a canvas. If you’re not accessible to any viewers outside of the Internet, calm down.
25. A lack of promotion by promotions; the easy way in and out.
26. Promoters not granting me, or anyone, permission to live stream.
27. Promoters who allow me to live stream, notice the buzz generated within a live stream, and then ban the live stream—and eventually me—from their event.
28. Not being able to refer back to previous bouts because there is no video footage to speak of. Even a promotion as big as Bellator has a portion of their card, known as postlims, occur in the dark—not recorded and never seen again.
29. Most local promotions only publicize their product, not the athletes propping up their little cash cow of combat.
30. Many promoters I’ve met who open their wallets to buy a slice of the pugilistic pie—doing so with a narrative rooted in the concept: offering a platform for all the area’s practitioners—unfortunately, soon identify, and single out, the region’s needle-movers, those more apt to help them turn a profit.
31. The dark side of the game, behind-the scenes happenings that rarely seem to make their way in front of a camera’s lens: horrific weight cuts, people getting ripped off, injuries, and young, impressionable prospects having their careers hijacked by people, usually managers and promoters, who are more “in the know.”
32. Witnessing regulations interpreted, and enforced, in very different ways by officials.
33. A lot of promotions want to act like they’re barely scraping by to break even; however, there are plenty of pockets plumping up with profit.
34. I had several instances where people wanted to hire me for a project, yet trying to get them to fulfill their financial end of the bargain was like drawing blood from a turnip.
35. Fighters expressing their unhappiness with me: Some were outraged that I had shared their loss as a daily KO, TKO, or submission, a feature I created on NorCal MMA’s Instagram page (@norcalfightmma); additionally, others didn’t take too kindly to not being invited as a guest on my podcast immediately after their victory.
36. The issuance of a press pass should never be predicated upon whether a particular stipulation was met. For example, a couple promoters tried dangling a media credential in front of me like a carrot: I could have the all-access lanyard if I did something specific on my podcast or promoted something on social media in a fashion they detailed. As one would expect, I didn’t attend those events.
37. Few, if any, fighters, promoters, media, or anyone else active in MMA’s community, wants to say anything publicly after being slighted within the industry, especially not at the developmental phase of a freshly minted career.
38. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Oh, the People You’ll Know
Brains being beaten in four-ounce gloves without shoes; mixed martial artists tend to steer toward such abuse. In MMA’s landscape, love of the sport my be all you know, yet others will bruise your desire to go. And YOU, a site’s owner, can choose what to show—I’ve chosen a place away from media row.
39. Living in a state of delusion. Everyone aiming to bolster MMA’s broad reach has been a victim of hyperbolic commercialization: promoters, fighters, ring card girls, other members of the media, fans, and everyone else—including me.
40. The cliques; I graduated from high school long ago.
41. Bigger media outlets snubbing the little guy while credentialed to the same event—and sitting next to one another. Like it or not, we were peers at that moment in MMA history.
42. The perception of others: I’m not sure what some people thought I was getting out of my role as “media guy”—other than a cage side seat and the opportunity to chat with some of the best mixed martial artists on the planet—but, apparently, they believed it was something monstrous.
43. Connections are invaluable when traversing MMA’s topsy-turvy terrain. Oddly enough, people I’d come into contact with would spray me with a list of iconic names they were associated with in some capacity; I’d burn that bridge to the ground with gasoline. With all the legendary figureheads hurled at me like grenades, I never understood why they would act like they needed little old me in the first place.
44. Collaboration is a two way street, although there were some who wanted to “work” with me as if it was a one way road.
45. All the training in the world couldn’t strengthen the fragile egos I’ve seen shattered.
46. Passing the buck; I know: it’s never YOUR fault.
47. Everyone in the industry seems like a scavenger for credit. In my opinion, if I share something that’s watermarked with your brand, I’m not sure how much more credit to give. I’ve had countless people share content I created—without acknowledgement, and I never made a peep.
48. Readers/Followers who provided constructive feedback about something I have already posted, yet they hadn’t done any sort of exploration for answers on their end.
49. Fans who worry solely about their fighter, messaging the NorCal MMA account repeatedly in search of specific information related only to their guy/gal and getting frustrated when I don’t promptly respond.
50. Passive-aggressive photographers and videographers.
51. People who want an article or podcast edited in a particular manner before I publish it to the world wide web.
52. Guests of my podcast who want to know what kind of visibility they’ll receive before going live with me.
53. Constant drama and bickering.
54. When those in the crowd wish to showcase their prizefighting pedigree against another fellow patron, their selfishness, by in large, could never be confined within a cage. I’ve even had full scale riots erupt behind me as I’m simply trying to enter some data points about an evening of entertainment into my laptop.
There’s an expression, “On your feet, lose your seat,” and it’s at this time: I stand, bow, and vacate my place at the media table for anyone in Northern California willing to apply.