Chuck Mindenhall says managers who refuse to grant access to certain media outlets or members of the press are doing more harm to their clients than to the publications.
One of the unexpected conflicts of the COVID-19 pandemic in MMA was further dissension between managers and media. Behind the scenes, more than one manager in the industry has blacklisted media members or, in some cases, entire publications. The block isn’t exclusively on high-profile talent. It can sometimes hold all the way down to UFC debutantes or regional standouts. A more publicized example of this came from Jason House of Iridium Sports Agency. House shunned the negative press around UFC operations during the novel coronavirus outbreak. House declared that media members opposing the UFC’s event schedule were no longer welcomed to speak to his clients.
To all of the MMA Media that has been so negative towards the UFC and their business decisions, critiquing from the sidelines is pathetic. If you don’t have anything positive to say now, then don’t bother contacting us for interviews later.
— Jason House (@JasonKHouse) April 10, 2020
Mindenhall argued the friction between media and managers ultimately harms the fighters. He shared his thoughts on episode three of The Insiders interview series.
“Who is doing their job correctly?” Mindenhall asked. “If you’re media and you’re paid, basically, for an opinion. If you’re writing columns, you’re writing features or you have a radio show or if you’re supposed to be looking at big picture issues and scrutinizing decision making within the sport. That’s your job. You’re doing your job correctly even if it’s negative because that’s part of the coverage of the sport. When a guy who is a manager decides to shut down or put his fighters behind a partition based on that, that man is not doing his job correctly. That is somebody who is then being a detriment to his fighters and his job.”
“For me personally, I could care less about whatever they want to do. But at the same time it seems like there is a misunderstanding in place. To make something like a vendetta towards specific journalists who you think basically murdered UFC 249. It just seems like bad policy to go onto your Twitter and to say something like that, Who is that serving? I don’t even know who that is serving. It’s a bizarre time. There is so much infighting,” he continued. “ It’s absolutely at odds with what your job entails.”
Mindenhall also explored the differences between the Endeavour and Zuffa eras of UFC. More specifically, how the Fertitta Brothers added more personality to the business.
“If Endeavor officials, Ari Emanuel or any of the big names, had come forward and just made statements, just talked to the public and the media a little bit. Put some kind of face to what was going on. Maybe there would have been a different vibe from the beginning. It became faceless immediately. You have Dana operating as a middle man between what the owners are thinking and what the reality is. It made it very impersonal,” Mindenhall said. “One brilliant thing that the Fertitta brothers did was make it very familial… There was a feeling that we’re all in this together. You’re all building the sport into something that will be sustainable and, not just that, but maybe at some point mainstream.”
“I feel like that held together all throughout the Fertittas’ ownership reign. Because that structure was in place it felt like a family. It was like having a family in place. It felt very intimate,” The Athletic writer added. “The things that don’t make sense, it’s just Dana kind of digging his heels in and saying, ‘Well, that’s just the way it is.’ It’s almost like the UFC has turned a blind eye to what used to matter in that sense,” Mindenhall expressed. “Some of that is feeling disenfranchised or orphaned after the Fertittas left. A lot of fans feel like they’re listless or not rooted to the UFC like they were before. Like the family broke up a bit.”
Timestamps are below for the video above.
0:45 – Jeff Wagenheim’s recreational activities
1:56 – Fashion Watch with Chucky M.
3:21 – ESPN & The Athletic in MMA
10:59 – Departure from MMA Fighting
13:41 – Is MMA Alive and Well?
17:10 – Media vs. Managers
30:29 – Is UFC Missing the Fertittas?
34:14 – MMA Beat to Man & The MITH
37:43 – Hat Trick