MMA Mania is pretty much the biggest MMA site going. It's regularly updated 10-15 times a day and gets two million page views a month. The site is a behemoth in the fastest growing sport in the world.
MMA Mania was the brainchild of Thomas Myers. He's built the site into the MMA media powerhouse and with UFC 102 this evening, I figured it was time that SB Nation get formally introduced to the Huddle readership. Without further ado, let's get to know Thomas Myers a little better.
Blez: Tell me what inspired you to start MMA Mania.
Thomas Myers: At the time, there weren't very many good mixed martial arts blogs on the Web -- I could count them on one hand. So I decided to try and change that. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into – it was really just an experiment. I had recently accepted a position at a dot com, which quickly opened my eyes to the power of the Internet and what it could do. So me being a poor writer, who enjoyed watching MMA, and realizing that an opportunity existed in the market, led to the creation of Mania. Now? Forget it. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has an MMA blog. Back when Mania started it wasn't really the cool thing to do. It was perfect timing.
Blez: How do you feel about MMA as a sport now as opposed to where it was say 10 years ago?
Myers: It's night and day. And not just because it has become more popular and accepted over time. Fighters today are among the best athletes on the planet. Their collective dedication, hard work and sacrifice is second to none. It's clear on fight night just how far the athletes have taken this sport. No longer is it about boxing vs. jiu-jitsu or wrestling vs. karate -- it's about true, well-rounded mixed martial artists. Of course, there are some one-trick ponies still out there, but for the most part, the evolution of the fighters over the past decade is remarkable.
Myers: Dana White and the UFC know what they're doing. It's in the hands of good people who have deep pockets. Competition is always nice because it means we as fans are treated to more fights. But long-term having the UFC as the "major league" does indeed seem like the natural course for mixed martial arts. And I don't think 95 percent of fans will complain about that. The UFC has a recipe for success and a reputation for putting on great events.
Myers: Pride 33: "The Second Coming." It was one of the last events for the Japanese-based promotion before getting purchased by the UFC parent company, Zuffa. So that could also subconsciously factor into my decision. It was also electric from start to finish. A blood-soaked Nick Diaz pulled off one of the craziest submissions (gogoplata) ever seen (at the time) over arguably the top lightweight (at the time) in the world, Takanori Gomi. Before the finish it was like watching rock 'em sock 'em robots. Another under dog, Dan Henderson, scored one of the most memorable knockouts ever over Wanderlei Silva in the main event to capture the middleweight belt -- a title the "Axe Murderer" held for more than five years. Shogun Rua knocked out Alistair Overeem. Hayato Sakurai knocked out Mac Danzig. Sokoudjou surprised everyone when he defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueria, by, you guessed it, knockout. It was just an absolutely sick night of MMA. I miss Pride more because of events like "The Second Coming."
Myers: If Jim Bankoff would give me a vacation, then I'd probably have more time to play games. But that just doesn't appear to be in the cards anytime soon. Kidding aside, I really don't have the time. I'm tempted because the reviews and reactions on MMAmania are for the most part glowing. So, from the feedback the I hear and read, it's killer. But running a site that is on 24/7, 365 days a week, having two children under the age of five and working full-time on top of all of that doesn't leave much room for Playstation. Hopefully, when things slow down and my boy is a bit older, I can enjoy things like that. For now I'll stick to blogging, not gaming. It's more practical at this point in my life.
Myers: Tough question. There is a wide range. We have loyal Maniacs who have been with us since Day One when I was a lonely blogger praying for just one comment. Now we have tens of thousands a day, literally, and comments can balloon up to 300 or more on just one post. We look to a lot of those original members to try and educate the newer additions. Some things you do, and some things you don't. We have an unwritten code of conduct that most are able to adapt to and follow. Sometimes we have to intervene and speak up, but for the most part, it's all good. Guys and gals know how to push buttons and test each other. I think the important thing to remember is not just to hop in a blog and say "first" or "WAR FEDOR." That's dumb. And a lot of times people will get chewed out for making pointless remarks like that. My best advice is to make thoughtful comments and share ideas that are on topic. In the process, you'll learn from others in our community and even make friends. In fact, just last month we had a crew of MMAmania readers coordinate a trip to see UFC 101 in Philadelphia in a luxury box. They did it all themselves through our site. And they never would have met each other if it wasn't for MMAmania. That, to me, is what our community is all about.
Myers: The best part is giving MMA fans a platform to share their ideas and hear their passion. It amazes me that thousands of people log on every day and hit our site numerous times just to see what's new and talk about it with other fans half a world away. It's crazy and it never gets old. Especially when I consider four or five years ago I really just started the site on a whim with no real idea how the Internet worked or what I was getting myself into. Now it's an extremely popular online destination for MMA. It's a big responsibility. People rely on us. People get mad if it's a slow news day and we post eight items rather than our traditional 10-15. So that has to be my least favorite -- the pressure to constantly create new content. It's a blessing and a curse. I can't just wake up one morning and head to the beach for the day. I have to plan everything, and if I can't find someone to cover, it's ultimately my responsibility to ensure there is coverage. It's non stop. I don't think people realize that. My wife certainly didn't, especially when Mania started to take off, so it created lots of problems on the home front. I thank her for sticking by my side and seeing this through, considering I'm sometimes chained to my lap top from sunrise to sunset.The good news is it's much better now. With time I've been able to create a system that frees me up more to do other things with my family. I also have Jesse Holland, our managing editor, who can now handle all the day-to-day responsibilities without me micro-managing his every move. That's a huge help.
Myers: It's history. Couture and Nogueira are legends. It would have been nice to see this fight happen maybe a bit sooner in their careers, but beggars can't be choosers. I expect a great main event. A smart main event between two tacticians. First person to make a mistake loses. That's how I see it going, anyway. Then in the co-main event you have two hard-hitting 205 pounders, Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva. Both guys are hungry and coming off losses. I expect fireworks. And the middleweight match up between Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt is one of those old school classic match ups. Maia is all jiu-jitsu, but there is likely no one better than him in MMA today in that respect. He chokes guys out and doesn't even break a sweat. Marquardt is a gigantic middleweight who has the size and power to toss Maia from pillar to post. He's also more well-rounded. So what do I expect? I expect the unexpected, because that what this sport is all about.
Myers: Despite what they may think, I appreciate them all, even if they drive me nuts about moderation or point out small mistakes. Mania wouldn't be what it is today without our readership. So even though it sounds corny, thanks, Maniacs. I've also only really met my right-hand man, Jesse Holland, once ... and it was earlier this year. Most people think we are like childhood friends, but in reality, I recruited him online several years ago and that's how our partnership grew. We cover separate events and live 3,000 miles apart, so it's not like we bump into each other often. I tell people that and most of them are totally shocked. But if you ever met Jesse in person, you might understand the reason for that.
Blez: Thanks so much for your time. We love to have MMA Mania and you as a part of SB Nation.
Myers: Likewise, now get us on the platform already!