Josh Thompson believes it’s the media’s job to promote. A brutal dictator believes its his job to broker peace agreements between mixed martial artists. USADA believes testing a fighter over 50 times in a year is a good idea. It’s a weird one this week in your Sunday MMA Quick Hits!
Josh Thompson Goes Full Schaub, Says It’s Media’s Job to Promote
Despite now being a member of the media himself (sort of, as he’s employed as a broadcaster by Bellator MMA), Josh “The Punk” Thompson appears awfully confused as to what a journalist’s job actually is.
In the wake of the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN card (RIZIN 40) being announced for New Year’s Eve, Thompson challenged the “MMA Media” at large to get out and promote the event.
I have just one question for the MMA media …… pic.twitter.com/m8NBKMK6oE
— Josh Thomson (@THEREALPUNK) October 26, 2022
In what amounts to a misguided rant, Thompson began by saying “This right now is up to the media, to do their f*cking job. Their job is to promote the shit out of this, to let everyone know that this is what we’ve all wanted. How quiet are you guys going to be now? This is your job, to promote the sh*t out of the fact that two huge promotions with two extremely talented groups of talented fighters are mixing it up with each other and bringing you some of the best fights you’re going to see in two of the biggest promotions. It’s up to them. Are you all just going to sit back and bite your tongues because you know you won’t get credentialed at the next UFC if you guys cover this and build this up? I just want to know. I’m calling all you f*ckers out. I’m calling every single one of you guys out.”
As callouts, and takes go, this is a bad one. There’s one key comprehension problem with what Thompson said— he clearly has no idea what the media is supposed to do. Promoting is a promoter’s job. It’s, you know, in the name. Members of the media are not paid shills expected to promote events for the alphabet soup of organizations, though a large percentage of MMA coverage does that because, frankly, nearly all publicity is good publicity.
Generally, the media is there to report on events. To tell the stories. More often than not, in sports, especially in the modern age of “access media,” those stories are beneficial to the promotion, though not always (take our own rather lengthy piece on former Bellator fighter Alexis Vila’s murder charge from a few years back).
But yes, most of the time, the publicity from media coverage will be good publicity. The same can be said of coverage from the NHL to the NFL of course, with exceptions for stories on misbehaving athletes and head trauma.
Beyond that, Thompson’s claim about losing access to UFC events is dubious at best. From personal experience, given this very website has covered live events in person and remote (i.e. virtually due to the pandemic restrictions) since 2017, not once has UFC PR, or Bellator PR, or the PFL’s PR team ever said a single word about us covering events for other promotions. If they care at all, they’ve never let on, nor denied credentials because of it. In general, show up, act professional, and do your actual job (reporting) is all that these outfits ask.
Which Brings Us To…
The Media vs. Journalism debate. Which has been boosted in the MMA space once again by Luke Thomas.
Interesting take by @lthomasnews on his most recent live chat on journalism in MMA
Short of maybe a couple names I think this rings true. There's clearly journalistic aspects to MMA media, but for the most part it's not real journalism
I say this having never studied journalism pic.twitter.com/JTEbm3WKH2
— Chris Ferguson (@CFerg_mma) October 21, 2022
“First of all, MMA journalism doesn’t really exist,” Thomas said on his podcast recently. “Can we just say that out loud? Can we just say that out loud? It doesn’t really exist. MMA media exists, I’m a member of the MMA Media. People need to stop calling themselves journalists. They don’t do any journalism. Journalism barely existed 10 to 15 years ago, it almost doesn’t exist at all now. There’s plenty of MMA media. If you want to get into MMA so that as an MMA media person, you are acting as a watchdog on the sport, I think you can do some of that and maintain a job, but the reality is, you’ll get drummed out. The audience doesn’t want it, the power brokers don’t want it, the people that you think might want it, like your parent companies or investors, they don’t seem to give a sh*t.”
In a word, no. This is absolutely the wrong message to send, and it’s no wonder the likes of Josh Thompson are confused on what a journalist’s responsibilities are. First off, what Thomas is complaining about here is far from a unique situation. Whether it’s pro hockey or golf, the age of access media has shifted how a journalist is defined.
But at the same time, not all journalism need be activist journalism, and if you are reporting on the sport first hand, be it interviewing key figures (fighters, promoters, coaches, etc.), or breaking fight news (following the two-source rule), then yes, you are practicing journalism.
Is it worthy of a Pulitzer? Most likely not. But then, read MMA Junkie’s Finding Brennan Ward story from earlier this year, and argue it’s not journalism.
Now, it’s worth noting that Thomas has in the past suggested that things like breaking fights don’t really qualify as journalism. Well, it’s a take, and not a very good one. Any number of sports journalists from other fields might raise an eyebrow at that, given it’s not all that different from confirming a trade. And for the athletes involved, as well as their fans, such news is certainly relevant.
Beyond that, if there weren’t decent journalists reporting on everything from the recently updated UFC Code of Conduct (fighters betting on themselves will now be a thing of the past) to the ongoing, absolutely gross association of Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov with numerous UFC fighters, well, we’d be that much worse off for it.
Speaking of Kadyrov
The sport’s most infamous beggar and hanger-on once again inserted himself into the picture, by helping to bring about a truce between Khamzat Chimaev and Abubakar Nurmagomedov.
The pair got into it during UFC 280, with Chimaev somehow turning up near the cage. Despite not being licensed as a fighter or corner. No word as to what the squabble was about.
Khamzat Chimaev and Abubakar Nurmagomedov went from 0-100 wtf pic.twitter.com/Qmbt5zx4xs
— Out Of Context MMA (@oocmma) October 22, 2022
The Chechen dictator, who earlier this week threatened to burn Ukrainian soldiers alive rather than take prisoners, took to social media to assure his followers that there was no issue between the two fighters.
“There is no problem between Khamzat Chimaev and Abubakr Nurmagomedov—I have made sure of it personally, and I pass this information on to the ill-wishers,” Kadyrov said to his 8.1 million followers on Instagram (h/t Bloody Elbow). “Do not blow up this problem of a global scale and do not try to instigate and tease athletes and their fans. This happens, even among brothers. But it was the misunderstanding that was resolved.”
The pair were later shown sharing a meal following the PPV event in Abu Dhabi. But all this leads to a bigger question — how does Mark Zuckerberg justify allowing this asshat on Instagram while at the same time banishing Trump from his platforms, who at the very least isn’t a murderous dictator?
USADA Tests Jiri Prochazka Over 20 Times in a Month
Enough of all that silliness. Let’s take a look at some drug testing insanity instead. According to a report by TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, and confirmed by Cageside Press, UFC light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka has been drug tested 51 times in 2022, with 27 samples alone being collected in Q3. 24 of those in the past month.
That is head and shoulders beyond any other active fighter. And keep in mind, just a week ago, we learned that Conor McGregor had not been tested at all in 2022.
So, what gives? Not surprisingly, USADA cannot say. And it’s not fair to Prochazka to speculate in a column like this. However, assuming those tests all came back negative — and given he now has a fight booked for December, it seems he’s cleared to compete — technically, Prochazka hit his 50 test mark inside of 12 months.
Will he be gifted a USADA letterman jacket? That remains to be seen.
Brittney Palmer Shows Artistic Side with Star Wars Cards
UFC ring girl Brittney Palmer doubles as an artist, and she’s got some cool collectables out through the Topps line of trading cards, under their Star Wars collection.
Check ’em out below. This isn’t the first time Palmer has done some original Star Wars art for Topps, but these ones are particularly eye-catching. They’re only available for a limited time, so by the time you’re reading this, there will be just a few days left.
Each card captures the essence of our longtime heroes, blended with my imagination and creative process.
These collectibles are exclusively available for one week only. https://t.co/D05kKMI7M4 pic.twitter.com/HiExV6CsoA
— Brittney Palmer (@BrittneyPalmer) October 28, 2022
World Fight League Appears to Have Flopped Before Launching
The World Fight League sounded like an interesting idea when Ariel Helwani first reported on it a little over a year ago. It had, reportedly, the backing of several key figures in MMA, and would be a true league, with franchises, and a 50/50 revenue split between the league and its athletes.
The brains behind the league, Darren Owen, turned up on Helwani’s show, but was tight-lipped when it came to specifics.
And then… nothing. It quickly came to light that the league’s logo had been borrowed from the World Physique Championship, who appear to have gone dormant since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. WPC was another Owen endeavor.
Now, according to a report by Italian MMA journalist Al Zullino, it seems that the project has been dropped. “After preliminary talks and a full sales deck and entire schedule laid out for the events, the owner and CEO slowly vanished until he was completely gone,” the report states, citing a confidential source. “It doesn’t appear they took money and ran. The project was just dropped.”
“There were plenty of opportunity to sell the idea to sponsors and backers. CEO failed to effectively sell the idea, making concessions all along the way until the show was just another MMA event. Money backers slowly started pulling away and then it all just completely vanished.”
That’s a shame. As the PFL and Bellator continue international expansion, and ONE Championship pushes towards a U.S. debut (possibly in Denver, CO), MMA is in good shape at the moment. Still, any promotion offering better pay for fighters would be a welcome one.
A1 Combat Round-Up
Cageside Press was on hand for Urijah Faber’s A1 Combat 6 last weekend. If you missed it, catch up on our behind-the-scenes interviews below!