Jon Anik, Kenny Florian and Franklin McNeil may receive the most camera time on ESPN.com’s news and information program MMA Live, but it’s Molly Qerim who the camera loves the most.
Qerim, who serves as the liaison between viewers and the on-air broadcast team, regularly hosts segments like “Crunching The Numbers,” “The Pulse” and “MMA For Dummies.” She also reads every single email sent in by viewers.
Qerim earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut and her Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Quinnipiac University and made her big ESPN debut on the company’s mobile network in late 2006. In 2008 she served as the interactive reporter for College Football Live.
Though she didn’t start her career covering MMA, Qerim has paid attention to the sport since high school and easily transitioned into her role as an MMA on-air reporter. Although the broadcasting sensation has covered a wide variety of sports – ranging from basketball and baseball to fantasy football – it’s quite clear that her passion lies with MMA.
In this FightMagazine.com exclusive, Qerim talks about her transition own transition game, her experiences on the show and the new segment she’ll be hosting in the near future.
Fight! Magazine: How did you transition from doing College Football Live to MMA Live?
Molly Qerim: Well, I’ll try to make this very short. My first job in high school was working at a gym, and I always played sports and I always worked out. I love to train. I used to do these crazy nutrition things when I was in high school, and my boss was very into mixed martial arts and boxing and things like that. Anyways, long story short, my boss kinda got me into the MMA stuff and I was at ESPN one day, and I met Juanito [Ibarra] and “Rampage.” They were doing some kind of interviews there, and I saw them again and their whole camp, and this was a few years back at an event in New York. I ended up talking to some of the fighters, and just became a bigger fan, especially from just the respect of the fighting disciplines that these guys know whether it’s wrestling, boxing, jiu-jitsu, and whatever it is. Just hearing their stories where these guys aren’t signing multi-million dollar contracts and dedicating their lives to the sport. Then this particular guy who I worked with, Kieren Portley (co-ordinating Producer for MMA Live, ed.) had wanted to start a show and cover MMA like an NFL Live or a College Football Live – like cover it as a sport. A news and information show. When I heard about it, I was like, “Ok, I got to be apart of this” and that’s just how it happened.
FM: So who are some of your favorite fighters?
MQ: Favorite fighters? That’s hard to say. I have to say Kenny [Florian] because we’re friends and he’s such a great guy. I’ve seen him train and that kinda thing. And Frank Mir, and all these different guys I’ve met. It’s kinda hard not to be a little partial.
FM: Yeah. I’m sure if you didn’t say Frank and Kenny, they’d give you hell about it.
MQ: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah. Miguel Torres is awesome too. He’s great. We have Stephan Bonnar, and we have quite a few who have worked on the show and you’re on the show, eating lunch with them in the cafeteria and that kinda thing. So you know, you’re always gonna be rooting for your friends.
FM: We watch the show pretty regularly. We’ve seen you break down financial figures during “Crunching Numbers,” address “MMA Nation” with interactive questions during “The Pulse,” and learn techniques from bad ass jiu-jitsu wizards like Kenny Florian, Frank Mir and Joe Stevenson during “MMA For Dummies.”
MQ: That is by far my favorite segment. It’s awesome! We replaced “MMA For Dummies” for a little while with this table segment where Kenny was doing some cooking and nutrition stuff, and we just shot about twenty segments with Kenny and Miguel at the Florian Martial Arts Center. That one is just awesome. When I was in Vegas, we shot with Frank Mir and Joe Stevenson, and hopefully we’ll start shooting when I’m at UFC 100. Hopefully we’ll shoot a whole bunch with different fighters.
FM: I’m gonna be honest; I’m waiting for you to put one of the fighters in a chokehold or something.
MQ: (Laughs) Oh my god! When they (the producers) first proposed the segment, I was like, “Wait a second. What are we doing?” ‘Cause I’m thinking in my mind, “Do they think like I’m demonstrating these moves with Kenny? Cause that’s not gonna happen!” And it was funny. We were there on Tuesday and one of the camera guys was like, “Are you a fighter?” Oh my god, no! (laughs) But yeah, the “MMA For Dummies” is by far my favorite. “Crunching Numbers” we no longer do and that was replaced by “The Pulse” segment and now, we’re actually replacing it again. But my role is to be the liaison or interactive reporter between the fans and the show because the show is interactive.
FM: Tell me about this new segment.
MQ: [It’s] pretty cool. Instead of me tossing up the question, say Bear writes in from Virginia, “Who is gonna beat [Lyoto] Machida in the next fight?” You will actually send in a video of yourself asking and giving questions and comments, and we’re gonna put that on the show and kinda have the face behind the name.
FM: So if I were to personally do that video, would you put it on the air just because it’s me?
MQ: (Laughs) I think I can arrange that.
FM: Sweet. I’m holding you to that.
MQ: Yeah, but I hope people can send in videos because I think it’s really cool because you get a chance to really see [the person behind the e-mailed question].
FM: There are three dudes on MMA Live and you’re the only girl on the program. What’s it like being the only chick on the show?
MQ: I am the youngest child in a family of all girls, and I always said I wanted brothers. Always, and (laughs) be careful what you wish for because at ESPN, I feel like I have a million brothers! No, these guys are great. We joke with each other and we have a good time, and they tease me a lot, but I can handle it. I dish it back a lot.
FM: Awesome. Is there anything you’d like to add?
MQ: No, not really. Of course the other thing I love is when we actually get to go to the fights, I always tell people that aren’t fans of MMA, I’m like, “Go to a fight and then tell me you’re not a fan.” It makes a big difference. Don’t ya think?
FM: We think so.
Read Bear’s chat with MMA Live host Jon Anik here.