On a recent tweet earlier this week, Dominance MMA CEO, Ali Abdelaziz, has accused ESPN’s MMA journalists, of corruption, and has declared a ban on interviews with their fighters. One bad apple can spoil the bunch, and in this case, Abdelaziz has found a rotten monzana. Based off of his tweet, there is one ESPN journalist in particular fueling this energy, which is very unfortunate for ESPN, given Dominance MMA has arguably some of the best fighters in the world. Fighters like Frankie Edgar, 23W 8L 1Dr, current UFC Lightweight Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, 28W 0L, the current UFC Interim Lightweight Champion, Justin Gaethje, 22W 2L, and the current UFC Welterweight Champion, Kamaru Usman, 17W 1L. A very notable mention to Olympic gold medalist, Henry Cejudo, 16W 2L, holder of the UFC flyweight and bantamweight titles before retiring, also managed by Abdelaziz.
Abdelaziz has been known to voice his opinions, and stand up for his fighters, this is one manager that is on the front lines at all times with his clients. He also trains, appears to be a fighter in his own right, very much in shape, and can probably piece-up any other MMA manager. I’ll put my money on Abdelaziz all day, this dude is the Egyptian Tony Montana. A savage when needed as well as family oriented with his fighters, which is probably what keeps him really in tune with his clients and their fight game. I don’t recall I’ve ever really noticed another Egyptian dude in the combat sports world’s spotlight, so he makes a pretty damn good first impression if you ask me.
ESPN is at the top of the food chain when it comes to broadcasting sports, so it comes to no surprise they would allow journalists to speak so subjectively appearing as devil’s advocates. Controversy sells, however in some cases it can be not so fitting depending on a fighters circumstances. I personally no longer tune in to certain ESPN shows based on the stimulated narrative from specific journalists, very likely the same one Abdelaziz is accusing of corruption. There are still some good journalists out there covering the sport of mixed martial arts, Brett Okamoto being one of them, who’s not overly subjective. Holding interviews with two fighters, who are about to face one another, on separate occasions and relaying all the smack talk from one fighter to the next can create tension. “He said he was going to…” or “he said you were…”, and that’s how a lot of the drama begins to unlock to then unfold. That’s just one minor example, many false narratives are created right on the spot during these interviews. When the drama unfolds, and there’s an altercation between fighters, the same journalist trashes the fighters for getting into that altercation. The altercation might not have happened had the interviews not taken place, however no one confronts the journalist in regard. This is just one small aspect from my perspective as a fan, but what if we asked the mangers of all the fighters being interviewed? I doubt as a manager, they would want their fighter upset, or even distracted, after hearing what another fighter said about their fighter, especially if it’s being rubbed in by the journalist, made public to the world.
Sometimes the interviews go beyond a rub from smack talk, and can be the trashing of the MMA organization the fighter works for. A created energy of added tension which was never there in the first place, all from one journalist who feels he can stir up the pot, ruffle the feathers of some of these fighters, and also create problems for the UFC. Asking the fighters if they are happy with the decisions the UFC makes puts the fighters in a position to bad-mouth the company on public media. Who else is better at pointing out how they think the UFC should be running their business, and treating their fighters? Could this be a former employee from the UFC who was fired, now irate, and is currently using another major platform to subliminally attack the UFC via journalism warfare? Is there not a conflict of interest somewhere, in which former UFC employees are allowed to interview current UFC fighters? Nevertheless, Abdelaziz has taken it upon himself, pulled out the mighty blade, and has chopped off the head of the gossip-snake, shutting down the nuisance journalist, restricting any future interviews with his fighters. In the combat sports world there is a different type of fight happening outside the cage, and Ali Abdelaziz scores a game changing victor against a relentless competitor.