Read My Interview With Pittsburgh Steelers’ LaMarr Woodley In May’s FIGHT! Magazine

Fight Magazine - May 2011I might be a diehard New England Patriots fan, but sometimes work takes precedent.

I ventured into enemy territory several months ago in chatting with Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro linebacker LaMarr Woodley for a feature in May’s FIGHT! Magazine.

Woodley was a bit easier to track down than Tim Thomas, simply because Woodley is in his offseason — a locked out one at that. We chatted while he was in Michigan on family business and talked about what attracted him to the sport, his training in Florida and being a part of UFC 100.

He’s a good dude and I joked with him a bit over text about whether LaMarr vs. Lesnar would be a great main event (he has no interest in that or any other fight).

Follow LaMarr on Twitter, yet another pro athlete who loves, respects and understands MMA and wants to be involved. We can’t have enough of those guys around.

Josh Nason is a freelance MMA journalist who contributes to FIGHT! Magazine, WrestlingObserver.com, BloodyElbow.com and several radio shows/podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshNason.

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How My April FIGHT! Magazine Feature On Boston Bruins’ Tim Thomas Came Together

Fight Magazine - April 2011 - Josh NasonIf you love hockey and MMA, I am fairly confident you’ll like my interview with Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas in April’s FIGHT! Magazine. The story of how it happened is quite something as well.

I remember reading an Ariel Helwani Q & A several years ago on Thomas and wanted to do more of a feature piece on him for FIGHT!. I pitched, they accepted and off we went. But pro athletes in the “traditional” sports are a bit tougher to track down than their MMA counterparts, sometimes to a maddening degree.

Thankfully, this wasn’t the case but it still took a while. I used to work for a pro hockey team and understand the athlete’s workday pretty well. There’s a lot of hard work but there’s a lot of downtime too. I was glad to be able to work everything out, which is more than I can say for another Boston team that I was attempting to work with. That story will hopefully have a happy ending…someday in 2015.

After leaving several messages on voicemail and getting nowhere, I took to Twitter (of course!) and asked if anyone could help out. I hate doing biz in public like that, but desperate times call for desperate social media efforts. And hey, it worked!

The next day, I got an email/call from Eric in their PR department and after several months of trying to figure out a good time for a phone call, we found a window when the team was in Vanouver on a long layoff.

Tim called me on a late-Thursday afternoon and we had a great 30-minute chat about his love of MMA, where it came from and basically anything but hockey. Having worked in the sport for so long, I knew it was going to be fun. Hockey players are very similar to MMA talent in that they are tough dudes who enjoy being tough dudes. For the most part, they can have normal conversations like most normal people and that’s refreshing.

The shifting of conversation away from hockey was done by design as Thomas and many other athletes talk about their professions constantly. Especially in the Boston media, they are doing interviews non-stop about the same subject over and over and over again. I thought it’d be a nice break for Thomas to discuss something other than the ice, even though we did chat a bit about his scrap with Montreal goalie Carey Price earlier this season.

So I encourage you to pick up April’s FIGHT! and check out the feature, along with the other great writing in there. As always, let me know what you think and be on the lookout for another big athlete piece in May’s FIGHT! as well.

Josh Nason is a freelance MMA journalist who contributes to FIGHT! Magazine, WrestlingObserver.com, BloodyElbow.com and several radio shows/podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @JoshNason.

Listen To My F4W Interview With Joe Warren, Read My Bellator 39 Coverage With Eddie Alvarez, Pat Curran

Another busy few weeks for yours truly with a fairly good-size announcement coming shortly. And apparently, I became obsessed with Bellator Fighting Championships recently?

Joe Warren interview with Bryan Alvarez (subscription needed)

In my continuing bi-weekly MMA interview show on WrestlingObserver.com with Bryan Alvarez, we talked to Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren for 30 minutes on all kinds of stuff. We covered Bellator, his break in the business at an old age, appearing at a TNA wrestling event, knowing Kurt Angle and more. It was an awesome show and another reason why you should subscribe to the site.

Bellator 39 Preview: Pat Curran Sees A Win-Win Situation Against Eddie Alvarez

Despite the read totals being quite miniscule, I really liked how this turned out. Even though he lost, I think this is one of my favorite features I’ve written in 2011. One of the reasons I love writing is uncovering stories and introducing the public to people flying under the radar. Curran is one of those guys, so I’m happy to help tell a little of his life story.

Bellator 39 Preview: The Unique, Strategic Position of Eddie Alvarez

I couldn’t connect with Bellator Lightweight Champ Eddie Alvarez for a one-on-one, so I took some quotes from a conference call and fused them into an opinion piece. I really loved this one as well and the numbers somewhat seemed to support it.  Alvarez is a talented man on an island, surrounded by the Zuffa sea. For some reason, he’s in no hurry to jump in.

Bellator 39 Live Coverage and Results: Eddie Alvarez defeats Pat Curran

Pretty self-explanatory. Fun night with plenty of great fights, but the best part was sleeping in a hotel on the way back. (Seriously, I was tired!) I’ll cover Bellator anytime as they create a fun atmosphere in small enough venues where the people get into it and can see everything.

April’s MMA Schedule Highlighted By UFC in Toronto, Bellator’s Big Month

It’s a busy month, but not by UFC or Strikeforce. Yep, it’s Bellator!

Audio Appearances

My latest WGAM MMA Minutes are up, but for more free audio, here you go.

 

Josh Nason is a New England-based freelance MMA journalist that contributes to FIGHT! Magazine. He frequently does radio/podcast appearances and asks for your “like” for ESPN Boston to cover MMA.  Follow him on Twitter.

One Josh Gets To ESPN, Another One (This Guy) Still Waits For His Turn

Like him or hate him, give credit to MMA journalist Josh Gross who announced Monday that he is taking his talents to Bristol, CT, and will join ESPN’s growing MMA coverage effective immediately.

There was no official start date announced, but his last piece for SI.com will run Tuesday where it’s expected some more light will be shed on this move. Gross has been in the game for a decade, most famously drawing the ire of UFC President Dana White several times over the years. When made aware of the news today, White called Gross a ‘scumbag’ among some other interesting comments on his Twitter account.

This is quite the situation for White and the UFC, who have made major in-roads over the past two years with ESPN. Major events are covered like major events with other sports. MMA Live went from online only to a weekly turn on ESPN2. They even have their own section on ESPN.com (and hopefully ESPNBoston.com someday).  The coverage has no doubt helped sell the sport to the all-important mainstream fan who they are looking to convert.

But now White has a fox in his henhouse. Gross has been banned from UFC events, but what if ESPN puts on a hard press? Surely they must have been aware of the situation going into bringing him on and maybe that’s part of the draw for them. I don’t know if they have another reporter in their arsenal that has such a tenuous relationship with the main organization he’s been paid to cover.

However, all that will unfold as it’s meant to. With one Josh in the ESPN MMA fold, isn’t it time for another? Like my Facebook page and tell ESPNBoston.com you want MMA coverage!

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter and check out his audio archive of appearances.

Five Reasons ESPN Boston Needs An MMA Section…And Why I’m The One To Run It

Update: I started a Facebook page and a Twitter feed for the initiative. Thank you for your follows and likes!

When you say ESPN, you’ll get different reactions depending on who you ask.

Some chide the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” for paying too much attention to Brett Favre and Lebron James, others like the fact they can see World’s Strongest Man competitions every week while others simply love the fact that no matter what time of day and method, they can access sports news, scores and opinions.

One of the coolest things they’ve done in the past few years has been the introduction of microsites that focus on some of the biggest cities in the country: Dallas, New York, Chicago, L.A. and the best of them all, ESPN Boston.

The sites leverage existing ESPN content and also feature site-specific features by some of the area’s top traditional print and online journalists, many recruited from newspapers that simply couldn’t match the opportunity.

But while the sites primarily focus on traditional sports (think the four major leagues), each site has its own unique coverage. Examples include Los Angeles who prominently features USC and UCLA and New York with their U.S. Open coverage.

But it’s what the Dallas site offers that really grabbed my attention: a mixed martial arts section.


Their blog is contributed to by three writers, one of which hosts a show on the regional ESPN radio affiliate. While the stories mainly focus on local talent, the section also features news and opinion on national MMA news, obviously UFC-centric.

So with the sport continuing to expand around the world and more eyes than ever focused on the product, it’s time that ESPN Boston adds an MMA section. And yes, I’m the one that should run it.

Need some reasons? Here’s five.

1 – Journalistic experience

Not to brag, but I’ve got the whole writing thing down. I’ve been writing and reading since age 3 and started covering sports in my sophomore year of high school. Through my college years at Orono’s University of Maine, I never stopped. While football and men’s hockey were always the big beats, I took the path less traveled with women’s basketball and field hockey. The niche sports always appealed to me and still do.

After seven years working in pro hockey, I revived my writing career in a part-time capacity with local and national magazines and websites. It felt awesome getting back in the journalistic saddle.

It’s easy to be a blogger. It’s not easy to be a journalist. I take pride in my background and continue to work on my skill set every day. Whether it was being on a beat, writing columns or being an editor, I’ve been there and done that and love learning more about my craft.

2 – MMA experience

While I have never competed in the sport, I understand the discipline it takes to compete in it. While the assumption by some is that the competitors and fans of MMA are bloodthirsty simpletons, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I was a pro wrestling and boxing fan that began to appreciate MMA in 2005 when The Ultimate Fighter reality series first started on Spike TV. I couldn’t get enough and was fascinated by the personalities, the passion and the dedication these men and women put into their careers.

Armed with that, I began to write about MMA, first starting my own blog and then contributing to other websites like Bleacher Report which helped my work get placement on CBSSports.com. While doing that, I added internationally distributed FIGHT! Magazine and began to do radio appearances.

Between my articles and those media appearances, my name is getting more familiar all the time in the MMA community thanks to hard work and long hours of writing, networking and being dependable.

3 – Online experience

Writing is one thing. Getting that writing found is another.

In my full time job for an email services provider, I’m responsible for creating content and getting clients, prospects and industry pros to interact with us. Whether that’s through social media, comments on blog posts or simple conversations, I feel great accomplishment and pride when those people understand our brand and look to us for answers.

I understand the importance of creating great stories and then promoting them for maximum page views, chatter and reader loyalty. Updating a blog once a week isn’t good enough. A commitment like this requires daily thought and content, created by those dedicated to the cause and up to ESPN standards.

In addition to writing, I’ve been an editor and understand the responsibilities of recruiting the right people to create compelling stories. Having the backing of ESPN would make this whole process even easier to accomplish.

4 – Boston — and all of New England — is ready for it

With MMA legal in Massachusetts, the UFC came to Boston this past August with a pay-per-view card and a Fan Expo that brought tens of thousands of fans into the city for the weekend. UFC President Dana White –a South Boston native — was ecstatic at the amount of coverage the event got as every major media outlet was present throughout the week’s media activities.

They’ll be back, but there are many other regional organizations that are based here that will continue to grow. World Championship Fighting, Combat Zone, Triumph Fighting and more are promoting events on a regular basis and people want to read about who’s next and why they should care. I think we could be leaders in this coverage, leveraging the power of the ESPN brand to satiate these consumers.

And when the UFC does return, ESPN Boston would provide unparalleled coverage of that event.

5 – I kinda work for the ESPN family already

I record a weekly segment called ‘The MMA Minute” on WGAM 900/1250, an ESPN Radio affiliate based in Nashua, NH. That must help, right?

My goal for the MMA section on ESPN Boston would be to create a destination for readers ranging from dabblers to the hardcore fans that are looking to get in-depth coverage and opinion on both the UFC and the local scene. Our work would stand alongside that of Mike Reiss, Gordon Edes, Chris Forsberg or any other ESPN Boston writer in capturing the reader’s interest and engagement with a flavor of everything that encompasses our six-state region.

In a hyper-competitive media market like Boston sports has become, diversification is a key weapon in winning the war for pageviews. It sure would be good having an MMA content general leading the charge, wouldn’t it?

Let’s talk, even if it’s just an informal chat.

Email me at nason35@gmail.com, hit me up on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. I do have a cell, but at the risk of getting bombarded with date requests, I figured that best be held in private.

So what do you say, ESPN Boston? You ready to step into the MMA content cage?

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter and check out his audio archive of appearances.

Josh Nason To Host Weekly MMA Segment on Southern New Hampshire’s WGAM Radio

After a meeting one year ago and some discussions that revived over the past two weeks, I’m happy to announce that yours truly (yes, Josh Nason) will be hosting The MMA Minute on Southern New Hampshire-based WGAM, an ESPN sports radio affiliate that airs on 900 AM in Nashua and 1250 AM in Manchester.

Josh Nason joins the WGAM team for The MMA MinuteEvery week, I’ll be recording 60 seconds of fresh MMA news (results, upcoming events, etc) that will air from Wednesday – Saturday multiple times every day. We are looking for sponsors for a 30-second ad to accompany the spots, so if interested, contact me and we’ll go from there.

The station has been around for years and airs a mix of local talk and ESPN programming along with the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, the Manchester Monarchs and high school sports. This is their first official foray in the world of mixed martial arts and I’m psyched to be the one to kick things off.

The spots will begin this week, so tune in and listen for my magical voice. If you’re driving, resist the urge to pull over and if you’re at work, you might want to get up and dance.

In all seriousness, this is a great opportunity for me and I can’t thank WGAM enough for throwing me the ball. This could evolve in a few different ways, but for now, I’m going to lock in on providing the best content I can to the listeners every week. If I can educate some non-MMA fans along the way into what the sport is, that’s awesome.

If I can help convert some to our side, even better.

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter and check out his audio archive of appearances.