I’ve watched MMA Live on ESPN every week for the past month or so and I have to say I’m impressed. It’s informative without being dumbed-down, the analysts are very good, and it’s one of the few programs on ESPN actually worth watching!
– Not 100% UFC-centric. MMA Live could very easily be “UFC Live” if they wanted to but so far they’ve touched upon Strikeforce, WEC, Bellator, Dream, and most recently ImpactFC. Most of their content is based on the UFC but that’s expected considering they are the premier organization in the sport both in fighter quality and in global popularity.
– UFC Highlights. What’s lacking in boxing is the ability to show highlights of major PPV bouts, particularly if it ends in a knockout, on shows such as Friday Night Fights. With MMA Live they were able to break down the key moments of Carwin vs. Lesnar, including Carwin’s knockdown, Brock’s escape, and the takedown by Brock in round 2 leading to the submission victory.
– Studio Hosts. Jon Anik is a very good and knowledgeable host. He seems to know his stuff and doesn’t come off as a complete amateur like some of ESPN’s soccer know-nothings. The studio analysts usually revolve but they’ve brought in Pat Miletich, Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Stephan Bonnar, and Miguel Torres-Mir*. While Miguel tends to stutter in his delivery I find all of them to be more than competent at their jobs. The only major blip would be Rashad saying that a Strikeforce PPV headlined by Bobby Lashley vs. Dave Batista would do over 300,000 buys, which is blasphemous.
Franklin McNeil. Is that how he talks in real life? I don’t have any biographical information on McNeil but he sounds like he has a speech impediment. Hopefully it’s a speech impediment because the average human being does not need 5 minutes to say 10 words like he does. When McNeil actually does speak….he amazes me. I am certain he was the one that said Junior Dos Santos has a great ground game because he “submitted” Mirko Cro-Cop. That’s like saying Kevin Burns is heavy-handed because he “knocked out” Anthony Johnson. McNeil isn’t a bad boxing writer but he’s not cut out for any MMA analysis.
Molly Qerim. She’s the one who gives people any breaking news, fight bouts confirmed, etc. a few minutes into the show. I’m not a fan of her because not only is her voice irritating, but she pretty much has no other purpose on the program besides reading off the latest news and updates. I guarantee someone on here will make a comment about how attractive she is, and I kinda get the feeling that’s why they hired her. If you seriously need to look at a hot chick watching sports involving sweaty men in combat then your mind (and your pants) have some conflicting thoughts.
Just a 30 minute show. This isn’t really a big criticism but I think that 30 minutes is not enough to cover all of the news and fights that have occurred in the past 7 days. It sort of makes the show feel rushed because there are so many topics to discuss and plenty of news to report. My solution to this is have an hour-long show on Saturday or Sunday night.
There is room for improvement but overall I see this as a top-class show for casual and hardcore MMA fans alike. This is the type of program that could broaden the casual’s knowledge of the sport outside of the UFC and give the hardcores their DREAM fix because their cable company doesn’t bother putting in HDNet (cough)Comcast(cough). In a rare moment of praise, I thank you ESPN for recognizing MMA and giving a show like MMA Live freedom to broadcast beyond the internet and provide it the exposure it needs to thrive for one of the fastest rising sports in the country.
* – I put Torres-Mir there not to insinuate that either one of them is gay, but to spoof that Frank Mir’s obnoxious praise of Torres makes you think he was married to him.