When ESPN’s “MMA Live” debuted on the internet a few months ago, ESPN stated the show could transition to television if it did well enough online. Well, it must be doing pretty good because according to co-host Kenny Florian, the show may be headed to ESPN or ESPN 2 “in the next couple of months.”
“I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but soon,” Florian said. “The next couple of month, we’re hoping to get [MMA Live] on ESPN or ESPN 2, and the sponsors are getting on board as we speak, so we should have a deal very, very soon. We’re all very pumped.”
This is big news. As loosely as the term “mainstream” is thrown around these days in reference to MMA, mixed martial arts could never truly be “mainstream” without the world’s largest sports network, ESPN, covering it like they cover all the major sports. This is obviously a huge step in that direction.
This is also really good, not only for the UFC, but for the sport as a whole. While the UFC does get a huge amount of coverage on “MMA Live,” and rightfully so, ESPN also does a tremendous job in covering the other major promotions without feeding into the casual fan perception that they’re the “minor leagues.” In my opinion, they present all the promotions in an equal light, which should help open people’s eyes that the UFC isn’t the only promotion worthy of their attention. This could be huge for Affliction and EliteXC.
If you haven’t caught an episode yet, you can check them out in our ESPN MMA Live archive.
[UPDATE 08/14/08 4:17PM ET] – Looks like Kenny may have gotten ahead of himself.
Although the company is pleased with the initial success of “MMA Live,” there are no plans for the show to air on ESPN or ESPN2, as Florian predicted.
“Like the rest of us, our co-host and analyst Kenny Florian is very excited about ‘MMA Live’ — the quality of the show, its hosts and the audience that it is building,” ESPN spokeman Paul Melvin today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “We are very energized about the place ‘MMA Live’ has in our growing ‘Original Digital’ lineup on ESPN.com, but there are no current plans for it to appear on any ESPN television networks in the future.”
Hopefully, ESPN does have plans to, but wants to keep it quiet.