One of the fun things about writing here at Caged Insider is the feedback we receive. Good, bad, or ugly! Keep it coming, guys!
Earlier in the week, a reader passed along that he enjoyed Monday’s column, Top MMA Writers.
While that piece offered two examples of “top writers” who offered their unique perspectives on the grappling arts and MMA — this reader was interested in my take on some of the current MMA journalists out there.
I debated taking the challenge on. I’m flattered anyone would be interested in my opinion, but at the end of the day, I’m just another fan.
But hey, I’ve enjoyed a great deal of MMA journalism over the years, along with various other MMA writing and broadcasting, so call this a little way to give back to some of the folks I enjoy.
Here you go. I’ll name ten:
For a polished look at the day’s news: Ben Fowlkes of MMA Junkie. One of the most respected in the game, Fowlkes always has well-thought out opinion pieces and is among the first on the scene with the news of the day. I don’t always agree with him but in terms of MMA’s “mainstream” scene, he’s right at the top. (This week, he offers a view of Yushin Okami’s recent cut by the UFC. I see his point: that it’s a business and Okami got a chance already; and yes, some fans are probably “flip-flopping” a bit. Still, as I wrote here, I don’t think there’s an excuse to cut a top ten middleweight when you describe yourself as the be-all, end-all of MMA as ZUFFA does. Hey, call me crazy — in fact, some of you did!) I also appreciate a great sense of sentence structure — yes, I’m aware I sometimes struggle with it myself — and Fowlkes’ prose is always clean as can be.
For a slightly different, a bit more irreverent and personal approach: Elias Cepeda of Cage Potato. Cepeda is a guy who likes to give you a smile as you read about all those punches in the face. That’s a tough road to take, but then, Cepeda often dares to do the impossible, including a column this week where he tried to defend Ronda Rousey’s behavior on The Ultimate Fighter. The thing is, he makes it work. Cepeda also trains regularly in jiu-jitsu and MMA — and last year made the decision to “not just be a irregular appearance at the gym” and actually get in the cage. He ended up with a few wins and some media coverage in Canada, where he fought a prominent amateur champion. I’ve followed Cepeda since his days at Inside Fighting, alongside other talents like Thomas Gerbasi, and he’s always well worth a look.
For a totally different take: Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion. Arnold is a guy who ruffles all the wrong feathers, writing scathing columns about athletic commission’s leadership, ineffective drug testing, and the influence of organized crime in Japanese MMA. A great example is this recent post exposing issues in organized labor in boxing and MMA. Do not expect Arnold on the scene with the quotes to remember from big fights. He’s behind the scenes, exposing the seedy underbelly, and getting the quotes which the people involved might rather forget. There’s a place for that, and Arnold fills it well.
There are a lot of great writers out there. In fact, Thomas Gerbasi continues to offer solid writing, but it’s for the UFC website. You can still expect excellent writing from him, but unfortunately you can’t expect as critical an eye from his MMA perspectives anymore. His boxing work, however, is among the best out there.
Broadcasters: I really enjoy Carlin Bardsley’s web show, In the Cage With Bards. He’s another who is not afraid to tick people off, and he adds a great enthusiasm for the sport that’s 100% contagious. A polished performer, Bardsley is one of the game’s best prognosticators, too: he routinely calls upsets like Travis “Hapa” Browne’s dismantling of Alistair Overeem, and actually called all five of the main card winners of the last UFC.
They generally keep to jiu-jitsu, but I’d definitely recommend Paul and Rafeal of Open Mat Radio for MMA fans as well — especially when they have a guest with a strong MMA background. Check out the Bas Rutten episode or the John Danaher episode for a great introduction to their style. For the most part — at least at their best — they bring in a great guest and get out of the way.
Three more journalists which I check out on occasion:
Loretta Hunt, one of the old school who ended up on the outs with ZUFFA but still puts out quality work regularly. She’s a very solid writer and I enjoy her perspectives — Hunt tends to look on the bright side of MMA life. Check her SI.com archive.
Dave Walsh, who runs the best kickboxing site on the net, Liverkick. His occasional MMA articles are among the most creative you’ll find. Check out Anderson Silva Just Taught Us The Most Important Lesson of the Force for an example.
Finally, Eddie Goldman, another of the old school who is pretty bothered with the whole MMA scene. Still, he’s a fun guy to listen to when he brings in a good guest for his venerable No Holds Barred radio.
There it is, my ten favorites. Who are some of yours? Let us know in the comments.