It was to be her big step up from the obscurity of MMA blogs to the big time of broadcast TV. But, instead, recent CBS Sports recruit Loretta Hunt’s promotion ended in this week sorrow when UFC boss Dana White refused her press credentials to cover last week’s Strikeforce show.
Hunt has not been best of friends for Dana White for some time, with the two having done battle online over topics prickly Hunt covered for Sherdog.com, but few would argue that the reporter is one of the biggest names in MMA journalism.
That matters not, apparently. For the UFC, it’s seemingly more important to maintain grudges than get good coverage in the mainstream media, even to the point of blocking a major US TV network from covering their events.
CBS, according to Hunt, hasn’t taken the pushback lying down. They’ll simply not cover MMA for the near future – period.
Hunt spoke to Sherdog’s Jason Probst:
“Did it hurt me? Yeah, sure. That was my first assignment for CBS Sports. I worked with one of the editors, producers over there who does the NFL and also had done MMA in the past. His name is Denny Burkholder, he’s a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts and CBS Sports, I’m told, hasn’t really covered MMA for the last year or so for various reasons I’m told because they’ve had some difficulty with getting interviews and things like that in the past, so they kind of cooled off from it and then they were coming back in, this was the first show that they were going to do in quite some time. They brought me in, assigned me, and then we were turned down. So, CBS Sports decided that they just weren’t going to do any coverage at all of the UFC. They don’t want to be told who they can send to their events and who they shouldn’t send to their events representing them.
“Yeah, I mean that I’m sad this door closed. I mean, a door really did close. CBS Sports is not going to look at MMA for at least a little while.”(Transcription by Fight Opinion, hat tip to Bloody Elbow)
For me, as a journalist, this story angers and annoys me. I’ve spent a lot of time I’d gladly reclaim on my deathbed telling non-believers how awesome MMA is as a sport, but increasingly it becomes difficult to defend the major league of the sport when actions such as this happen, especially as banned drug user Chael Sonnen prepares to come back to UFC action and multiple drug enthusiast Josh Barnett sits on the Strikeforce roster.
Will I find myself refused access for UFC 131 because I’ve written this story? I doubt it, but the fact of the matter is, it shouldn’t even be a question. If the UFC is a legit mainstream sport, as so many of us believe it is (and argue with our bosses that it should be), then media accreditation for large outlets should be a given, even if you’re not happy with their slant.
Hell, last year at UFC 115, Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre called the UFC “like an execution, only slower,” while Kim Bolan focused solely on whether gang members were around at the event, but we heard nothing but thanks from UFC brass for the coverage – because any coverage in the mainstream media brings the sport to the fore.
Dana White, if he made the decision to block CBS Sports, should urgently reconsider. If it wasn’t his call, he should make the call. MMA needs eyeballs, not a bad reputation behind the scenes to go with the one it has traditionally had in the cage itself.Tags: CBS Sports, featured, Press credentials, UFC, UFC 131