TSC Interviews: HDNet's Mike Straka
I discovered UFC during UFC 30-31, around the time Zuffa bought the company. I met Dana White around that time and he was and still is an anomaly amongst public figures. The guy tells you what's on his mind and is a straight shooter in a world where public figures always lie. Media guys like me get bullsh***** all the time, and here's this guy Dana White that's so refreshingly honest. I think the first thing he ever said to me was "I don't know if we're gonna f****** make it but I love this sport." That's Dana. No B.S. about him.
I was a believer and covered the MMA scene before it became mainstream and was really the first guy to cover UFC while being with a major network like Fox. Back to "Fight Game." When I became Executive Producer of FoxNews.com, I created "Fight Game" and we put it up just on mobile phones as a quick two minute MMA show.
We literally started in a closet with a Canon XL2 and barely any lighting. By the time I left, I was doing the show in one of the Fox Business channel's studios with a big staff, multiple cameras, great lighting, the works. It was a great endeavor with TapouT as a sponsor and it really became a full-fledged production.
You said you discovered UFC in 2001. Were you aware of the company at all before then?
Absolutely. And it scared the s*** out of me. Now of course, I know better, but at the time, you had guys like Tank Abbott and Butterbean. Those were some scary dudes. Today, those guys wouldn't last two minutes with Frankie Edgar. I don't care how big you are. The sport has evolved and changed so much. That evolution is what keeps me attracted to the sport. I've said this a million times. These athletes are truly the best in the world. The very best.
They always put in the time. They have to. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. There's always gonna be someone working harder than you and in that sport, the last thing you want is having someone beat the s*** out of you on national TV. It's one thing to get knocked out. It's another thing to get outworked. Look at B.J. Penn against Edgar. He got outworked—TWICE. I'd rather get knocked out then outworked.
I was gonna asked you what pisses you off, but I read your Facebook status and I think I know what does. Journalists that cover MMA and don't know what they're talking about. It's the pro wrestling dynamic.
People will bring up steroids or talk about Chris Benoit. I know.
And I feel like it's the same thing with MMA. You've got journalists (if you want to call them that) thinking they know their stuff and then on a recent article you linked, it had a UFC quote from 1998! I'm sure that pisses you off.
It definitely pisses me off! I was a mainstream journalist that crossed over to MMA. When MMA fighter Sammy Vasquez died in 2007, he was the first major MMA death. But he actually died due to a pre-existing heart condition. Fox News covered it pretty straight. I got MMAJunkie.com to cover it and they treated it very well from an insider's perspective. Unfortunately, you get a lot of journalists that don't know what they're talking about.
There's also politicians like New York's Bob Reilly...
You can quote me on this. BOB REILLY IS AN IDIOT. I had him on "Fight Game." He has the dumbest viewpoint on MMA and his state is going bankrupt and rejecting regulation for a sport that could bring New York millions. He keeps ridiculously voting it down along with other politicians.
Do you think it's because they're in bed with boxing?