Mike Straka

Mike Straka

MMABeats: How did you go from being a VP and Executive Producer at Fox News to being involved with MMA commentating and the shows you were a part of like Fighting Words and MMA Uncensored Live?
 

Mike: I was wearing many hats at Fox News, and one of them was part time on air talent. One of my bosses called it red light fever…once you get it it’s hard to shake, and if you’ve ever watched Fox News you know I’m in no way their idea of full time on-air talent, so I took my bat and ball and went to HDNet to do Fighting Words. I had hopes the show would have a long run, but to quote Mark Cuban, “the numbers just aren’t there,” so after just 32 episodes (and less than 1/4 of my fox salary) I was out on my ass. The irony is there are no  numbers for anything on HDNet because they enjoy very little distribution but that’s another story. So I bounced around for most of 2011, freelancing and trying in vain to get a full time job. I worked briefly for ABG and the TapouT guys and that was Jamie Salter doing me a solid to be honest, and just when I was going to go back to producing news MMA Uncensored came along, and even though Spike was at war with UFC I had no choice but to take the job and hope for the best. In reality it was a dream job for me, a big budget show that covers the sport I love, but we all know how that ended.
Such is the life of an MMA outcast. I certainly can’t make a living fighting for credentials to cover shows for one fledgling network after another, so to answer your question – ‘how did I go from being a VP and Executive Producer at Fox to where I am today?’ I’d call it some pretty fucking bad luck.

MMABeats: What is your background in MMA / Combat sports ?
I was a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do who won every tournament I ever entered. One day while I was at Rutgers where I ran the TKD club we entered a tourney at Yale University and I met Herb Perez, who invited me to train with him. I went every day from 1989 to 1992 while Mr. Perez trained for the Olympics and turned from a point fighter to a full contact little machine, largely due to the ass kicking he gave me day in and day out. Herb would go on to win the gold at Barcelona, while I went on to become a page at CBS where I learned the basics of the TV and the TV news business. I was also a district champ wrestler in High School and wrestled for Rutgers University as well, although I was more of a practice squad player than much of anything else.

MMABeats: On your show “Fighting Words” who was your favorite interview and why?

 

Mike: My favorite was Dana White, because at the time he did my show, he was at war with HDNet over some Randy Couture business. I helped those guys get their UFC credentials back based on my relationship with the organization, but then they cancelled my show – the numbers just weren’t there.

MMABeats: What are your thoughts on TRT use in MMA ??

Mike: I think they should legalize marijuana and TRT. I wish there was TRT for broadcasters.

MMABeats: Do you think now that the UFC has a women’s division that WMMA will be more accepted by the “mainstream” MMA viewer ?

 

Mike: I don’t think MMA will ever be mainstream. There’s a reason every single ancillary business that enters the space dives in with a huge splash and goes out with little notice, after spending all of its seed money – RYU is the latest but there were my friends at Tokyo 5, there was BSN, Gaspari just exited MMA – just go back to the UFC fan expo exhibitor lists and see the dozens if companies that no longer exist and that will answer your question.

MMABeats: What advice would you give someone wanting to cover MMA as a media person?

Mike: Make your Fuck You money before you quit your job. Also be sure that whoever you sign on to work for is not in the UFC’s crosshairs.

MMABeats: What kind of music do you listen to while training ?

Mike: Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce and Harry Chapin – all slow tunes that harken on better days and woe is me sentiment.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Mike for taking the time to talk to me and do this interview!

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