I’m impressed. I’ve been hoping ESPN would eventually do a NFL Live type program for MMA, and they have. I thought the show was well produced as you would expect from ESPN. Kenny Florian did a great job, and once again shows that he has talent outside of the ring as well as in it. The host, John Anik, is no Trey Wingo (NFL Live host) but he also did a great job. Franklin McNeil from the Newark Star-Ledger rounds out the panel. All in all, I thought they did a good job. They seemed a little stiff and nervous at times, but it is their first show. I expect they will loosen up and interact more comfortably as they shoot more episodes.
What I really liked was how they presented MMA as a legitimate sport. Not to say that I expected otherwise, but if I was someone on the fence about MMA and saw this program on ESPN, I think it would definitely help clear up any doubts I had about mixed martial arts.
Despite reports that the show’s debut was delayed by the UFC insisting the show be exclusive to them—imagine that—I am very happy to see that ESPN did not give in and elected to cover all the major MMA promotions. It would have seriously diminished the integrity and legitmacy of the show if they had. Dana just isn’t having his way with the networks. I’m glad the UFC decided to take the high road and are allowing them access to UFC footage.
If you’re a real hardcore fan who spends significant time on the internet each day to follow the news, you may not find a whole lot of added value to the show, but for a casual fan, a show like this is great. It can really help open people’s eyes to the sport beyond just the UFC.