LOS ANGELES, October 3 — The Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed martial arts promotion under the direction of Zuffa, LLC and owned and operated since January 2001 by Las Vegas Station Casino magnates Lorenzo and Frank J. Fertitta III, has denied media credentials to several MMA-exclusive Web sites and publications for UFC 55 on Oct. 7, impeding these media entities from performing their full responsibilities to report the event to the public.
Full Contact Fighter, a print publication and Web site that has covered the UFC and MMA worldwide since 1997, was denied a credential alongside Sherdog.com, which has reported since 1999 and is the world’s top-rated English-language MMA news Web site, as ranked by Alexa.com; MMAWeekly.com, home to the most-listened-to daily MMA Internet radio show; and MMARingReport.com, Canada’s top MMA news source.
Brener Zwikel & Associates (BZA), a public relations firm hired to administer credentials for the event, began e-mailing credential denial notifications on September 12 that stated, “I must inform you that it has been determined [applicant] does not meet the qualifications for a media credential. Thank you for your application, and for your interest in the UFC®.”
No “qualifications” or criterion for approval were provided with these notifications, which, contrary to previous BZA credential notifications, were released prior to the application deadline. Zuffa has denied subsequent requests for photos, graphics and other media-related materials that they previously provided.
Upon receipt of credential denial, MMA media members called and emailed BZA for clarification. BZA indicated that it acted solely upon Zuffa’s directive and that further inquiries should be forwarded to Zuffa’s Director of Public Relations, Jennifer Wenk. When contacted, Wenk said any qualifications BZA implemented per Zuffa during the credentialing process were internal and would not be made available to the media directly affected by this new policy. Wenk then recommended UFC President and Zuffa minority co-owner Dana White be contacted.
On Sept. 20, White received a certified letter from a unified group of top MMA media that were denied credentials. The letter requested a phone call or meeting with White to address Zuffa’s denial of longstanding MMA media. White did not respond. A subsequent phone call to UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta has also remained unreturned.
On Sept. 30, one week before UFC 55, White spoke with a designated representative of the MMA media group and said that Zuffa had not implemented new qualifications for media credentials. White said it was his company’s prerogative to accept or deny credentials and that he was presently denying all MMA-exclusive media Web sites.
However, Full Contact Fighter, a print publication and Web site, was among those denied media credentials. Zuffa’s decision to deny credentials has impeded Sherdog.com, Full Contact Fighter (and fcfighter.com), MMAWeekly.com, MMARingReport.com and other Web sites from providing the quality and quantity of unbiased, even-handed UFC coverage that fans and fighters have become accustomed to — and, in many cases, dependent upon. It is with great regret and concern that these media entities cannot provide the usual pre-fight, live-fight, and post-fight coverage of UFC 55 in the form of articles, video, and audio that feature the noble athletes of this sport.
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