Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Requiem for a News Outlet

Mixed martial arts is a harsh business, and if you don’t believe that, just ask any fighter trying to earn a paycheck before his body crumbles.  But the harshness of the sport extends in other directions, too, like to promoters struggling to make a buck, to clothing lines unable to make sponsorship payments, and even to news outlets.  Last summer Full Contact Fighter magazine – the longest-running MMA publication around – ceased operations and went web-only as a news source.  Now, even that’s done, and its name joins the ignominious ranks of magazines, newspapers and websites that were but are no more.  Hey, I smell a list dead news outlets coming on.  Do you?

    • Full Contact Fighter – FCF was one of the first publications on MMA, and for a while it was the only offering around.  Practically every scribe in the industry penned articles for the magazine, including Eddie Goldman, Josh Gross and Aaron Crecy, and the company’s well-branded clothing line was a constant presence in the Octagon.  Unfortunately, just as the Internet has struck a blow to all print media in the real world (do you know how many people have been laid off at the New York Times?  A frickin’ lot!), so too has the web hurt MMA’s hardcopy media.  After all, who wants to buy a monthly magazine when all the fight info they could possibly need has been available on a frequently-updated website since a few weeks ago?  The answer is “not enough people to make it worth it”.  The FCF gear and apparel outfit continues on, but as of right now, the organization that was often the only place to read detailed Shooto, Jungle Fights or Ring of Combat write-ups from ringside reporters in Japan, Brazil and New Jersey, is out of the news business.
    • Ultimate Athlete – Once upon a time a company called Zuffa bought a floundering promotion called the Ultimate Fighting Championship.  This sudden infusion of cash made everyone crazy.  Hence, the birth of Ultimate Athlete magazine, which endeavored to provide glossy coverage to this “new” sport on the cusp of an explosion in popularity.  Sadly, that explosion didn’t come until 2005, when “The Ultimate Fighter” hit the airwaves.  By then, the well had run dry, and Ultimate Athlete was dead.
    • Fight Sport – Like Ultimate Athlete, Black Belt Magazine breathed deep the scent of money and got excited, so they responded by tacking on a small section in their monthly magazine dealing solely with mixed martial arts.  This eventually grew into its own magazine, first helmed by Stephen Quadros, then by Josh Gross.  But alas, unlike traditional martial arts stylists – who fear keyboards and don’t mind their news coming once a month – the fans of MMA are too Internet savvy and impatient.  Thus, Fight Sport suffered a deadly Dim Mak blow to the accounting ledger, and it died alone in the woods.
    • FightWorld.com  - Back in the day (i.e., when SEG owned the UFC and it was nigh-impossible to find out results from smaller shows), the website FightWorld.com was the shiznit.  Also the shiznit: their video magazines, which were behind-the-scenes footage and interviews in an era long before anyone did those.  Sadly, FightWorld.com stopped doing news over a year ago, and now it’s some sort of link dump.  *Sigh*. 

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