The sport of MMA was once on it’s deathbed until it was saved by The Internet. Now in the year of our fight lord 2019, ESPN and Reddit are are at each other’s throats due to internet freedoms.
A strange, perhaps unforeseen, aftershock of UFC’s deal with ESPN is a sport kept alive by The Internet, now wants nothing to do with the world wide web. First came Reebok, then came USADA, and now the UFC’s deal with ESPN+ is next step of evolution for the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
Who would have thought all this could go so wrong; except everyone who even paid a little bit of attention. The first casualties on the UFC’s trip towards mainstream acceptance and even more money for their owners, was always their fans and fighters.
It just had to be this way.
UFC is no longer the scrappy little engine that could, competing against the big bad worlds of boxing, the NFL, NBA, or MLB. The UFC is a $4 billion dollar well oiled machine, with no intentions of stunting it’s growth.
Last week word of Brendan Schaub unknowingly selling out an entire community of fans came to light. This week, Reddit’s biggest MMA community wrote an open letter to ESPN and by proxy, the UFC. ESPN sent their eight armed bots and completely wiped highlights from /r/MMA over the weekend.
It was massacre and on Tuesday, the community addressed it head on. There are a million different topics to write about when it comes to MMA, but this one felt important. Hell there is a pretty good UFC pay-per-view in a few days, but sometimes a good old fashioned Internet class war, involving MMA pieces, is too good to look away from.
I, like many others, was very disappointed this past weekend, when you began filing DMCA claims against us, directly to Reddit, mid-fight.
We hope that this is not a concerted effort to force Reddit to takedown our subreddit.
Many of us remember waking up to you every morning, watching highlights from Stewart Scott, Dan Patrick, Kenny Mayne, Scott Van Pelt, and others, and being more than happy to do it. Sportscenter in its heyday was truly a television gem, combining skilled comedic touch with the amazing exploits of our sporting stars… no, sports heroes.
It was truly, great.
You used to be, too.”
The letter continued.
“We understand the basic business need to block streams. As a result, you cannot post them. You can’t ask for them. I now have two deadbolts on my door, because a mod attempted to break into my house because I even thought about these things while writing this letter.
However, filing claims to remove highlights with Reddit before the event is even over, is not going to have the effect that you think it will, because when you signed the deal with the UFC, you didn’t understand who you were getting in bed with.
But it’s actually a lot worse than just that:
-You don’t understand our fan base.
-You didn’t understand what we had to go through to watch this sport before you.
-You don’t understand the digital space and how it relates to MMA
-You don’t understand that your own paying customers come to those clips on /r/MMA, because we’d rather have informed MMA discussion from strangers than LISTEN to Stephen A SMITH yell ABSOLUTE NONSENSE incredibly EmpHATicALLy.
-You don’t understand that there are more than a few countries that don’t give a FLYING FUCK about DMCA. You are playing a game of whack-a-mole that you cannot win, because the infrastructure required to watch MMA in the past had to be built out in this exact way because of the access problems.
-And if you ever come for /r/MMA like you did with /r/mmastreams… lol… oh boy.
…as a result, it was a giant miscalculation to believe that you could lock UFC PPV’s behind two paywalls. And you’re making another one now.”