WFAN, the flagship talk radio station for New York sports, doesn't cover UFC or mixed martial arts despite the fact that several of the top up-and-coming league prospects are from the Big Apple.
28-year-old middleweight contender Chris Weidman is a native of Baldwin, NY, and officially fights out of Garden City as part of the Serra-Longo Fight Team. Al Iaquinta, another elite prospect on the Serra-Longo Fight Team, is a native of Wantagh, NY, and recently made it to the finale of "The Ultimate Fighter 15."
Additionally, East Meadow native Matt Serra is a UFC legend, having notched one of the greatest upsets in league history with his knockout of Georges St-Pierre in 2007.
With the UFC's recent emergence to the mainstream of the national sports landscape due to its deal with Fox television, it's surprising that the top media outlets in New York are slow to catch on.
The first "UFC on Fox" show, featuring a heavyweight championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on Nov. 12, 2011, did 5.675 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings.
The second, a light heavyweight contender's match between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis as the main event, did 4.661 million on Jan. 28, and the third UFC on Fox event pulled in 2.418 viewers despite being held on Cinco de Mayo.
With those kinds of numbers, you would think high-quality media outlets in the New York area would jump at the chance to cover the fast-rising sport of mixed martial arts.
WFAN is known for its coverage of the New York Mets and New Jersey Devils, and they do a great job with that.
I always tune in to listen to live broadcasts of New York Mets games, and to hear Evan Roberts' hilarious commentary on the New York Jets. But with round-the-clock sports coverage, its hard to believe that they can't find at least one show or segment dedicated to MMA.
WFAN's Mike Francesa consistently covers sports like horse racing and golf, while ignoring popular sports like MMA and hockey.
Francesa spoke at length about the recent Triple Crown horse races on NBC, and none of those races did significantly better than the "UFC on Fox" ratings. Kentucky Derby had approximately 14.83 million viewers, Preakness Stakes had just over eight million, and Belmont averaged 10.34 million viewers.
The UFC clearly has numbers strong enough to warrant discussion and coverage by WFAN and other local New York media outlets.
Furthermore, Newsday, the top daily circulation newspaper on Long Island, has over a dozen bloggers covering local high school sports, but just one covering mixed martial arts.
If the UFC is to ever get legalized in the Big Apple, it needs the support of New York media outlets.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Mets fan and supporter of WFAN. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- mixed martial arts