There's no city in the country that's into its baseball team more than Boston. The Red Sox take center stage from March-September and then it's time for the New England Patriots. Between excellent sports-radio stations and powerhouse newspapers, Boston is huge on its sports. If you're without a calendar, it's August, there's roughly 30 games left in the MLB season and the Pats are two weeks away from the season opener. So it wouldn't have surprised anyone if UFC 118 got little coverage this week.
Instead, the town's media has embraced the event like no other city in the U.S. has in the past. Both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe have had multiple staffers writing stories since early in the week. And even WEEI, one of the top-five sports-radio stations in the country, has devoted ample time to UFC guests and the event. It's a great step forward for MMA.
So if Boston can do it, with all that's going on in town, what was the issue in the past with Portland, San Francisco/Oakland, San Diego, Cincinnati, Columbus, Atlanta and Nashville? During those UFC stops, the promotion was fortunate to get an advance newspaper story on the Friday before the event and most of the sports-radio stations half-assed UFC fighter interviews, if they chose to put someone on at all.
The real egg is on the face of the most recent host cities San Diego and the Bay Area. UFC president Dana White flipped out before UFC 117 earlier this month. He exploded on Twitter over a reported run-in that his public relations people had with the San Francisco Chronicle.
The paper chose to completely ignore the event. White's diatribe and the Chronicle's decision to pass on the event sparked a spirited discussion on sportsjournalists.com, where most of the participants sided with the newspaper and said MMA was still a fringe sport.
The Chronicle's decision and the way the event was covered in San Diego reflect an odd shift for MMA. The West Coast was really where the sport got its initial push, but now it seems like the media outlets are hesitant to take the coverage to the next level. Meanwhile, when the UFC has gone east, cities like Boston and Philadelphia have been all over it. Why is that?
Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole, a longtime veteran of the newspaper business, disagrees with newspaper editors who refuse to take MMA seriously and says it's just a matter a time before the policy changes.