MMAJA issues statement regarding UFC 231 media event

December 6, 2018

The Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association has issued a statement in light of the uproar over the lack of questions related to Greg Hardy at yesterday’s UFC 231 Press Conference.

The statement reads:

After reports from media on site today at the UFC 231 press conference, the MMAJA is looking into a situation in which reporters felt they were unable to freely ask questions.

MMAJA has been in touch with UFC PR, which said their intention was for reporters to focus their questions on Saturday’s card and away from other topics.

UFC said they did not direct the media to avoid specific subjects, but that was the impression felt by several MMAJA members credentialed for the event.

Given the miscommunication MMAJA is seeking to secure a remedy with the UFC.

Any journalist covering a mixed martial arts event, whether they are a member of MMAJA or not, should be able to ask relevant questions during public media events, particularly regarding newsworthy items.

Though the media on-site followed UFC’s message, which was issued moments before the start of the press conference, MMAJA wants to make it clear that any media member would have been well within their rights to do otherwise.

This organization exists to help working journalists in the MMA space. Fundamental to that is ensuring access to the subjects they have been assigned to cover.

We trust the UFC understands that facilitating the work of reporters is a much better option than restricting the work of reporters, and will take care to express its intentions to the MMA media with this in mind.

The statement drew differing responses from MMA fans and other media.  In the end, it is still the job of journalists to ask the questions regardless.  Granted, this is difficult when a part of being a journalist (which many forget) is cultivating relationships to ensure that you get your job done.  It’s clear that the UFC influenced the questions to be asked but did not necessarily forbid it.  There would have been consequences to it if someone had asked a Greg Hardy question.

MMA journalists announce formation of MMAJA

June 14, 2017

A collection of MMA journalists has formed an association calling themselves the “MMAJA” as first reported by SI.  The officers for the MMAJA include writers from MMA Junkie, MMA Fighting, Bleacher Report and The Guardian.

The Board of Directors is comprised of Dann Stupp, Ariel Helwani, Chad Dundas, Marc Raimondi, Ben Fowlkes and Josh Gross.  The goal of the association is to promote a high standard of ethics and professionalism and help navigate working relationships with promoters, fighters and others in the MMA industry.

According to SI article, the thought of an association came out of the UFC 199 incident which Ariel Helwani and two others were ejected by the UFC from the event after a report made by Helwani.

Of course, the other side of the story is that Helwani was being paid by the UFC to cover the company.

According to the web site, MMA journalists are encouraged to join.  There is a fee to join for a one year membership.

Payout Perspective:

This is a good idea as there are these types of associations in other sports like football and baseball.  While it is unknown how much true power the association will yield, collectively coming together and establishing standards is a step toward more of a professional appearance similar to that of other sports.  For the cynic, it does appear that writers from big media companies (Vox, Bleacher, Guardian) control the board but this could change as these are the people that started the association.  It will be interesting to see who will join and how promotions deal with an association.  Certainly, MMA media and bloggers that cover the sport have been a scapegoat when it comes to reporting.