From the day I was hired as a reporter in 1993, I had sought ways to differentiate myself from the pack. My goal from day one was to fi gure out ways to be memorable, more memorable than the guy next to me gunning for the same interview. I’ve never sat on a middle-of-the-pack mentality. Being different is a weapon to be used in slicing through the fi eld of competitors who surround me. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever see MMA as the vehicle that would eventually make me so different. I had a few fi ghts in the earlier part of this decade. Like so many others who have wrestled and/or boxed, it was simply a logical next step. I loved to compete in combat sports. It was never intended to propel me to new heights as a reporter/TV host. In fact, back then I had to hide my passion in professional situations.
Yes, my life has changed. But as we approach UFC 100, I have but one thought: If this has all been a dream, I’m going to be one pissed off sleeper! Has this ride of ours really happened? Sometimes I sit at an event, surrounded by other fi ghters, celebs, sports fi gures, business moguls and think, can this all really be happening? About 60 UFCs ago, I was scared to tell a soul how good it feels to smash and get smashed. I was ashamed to admit I had another life, another world I lived in away from the offi ce. UFC 100, for me, acts as the greatest of measuring sticks to see how far we’ve all come. We’re not viewed as goons anymore. We’re not a fad. We’re here to stay. Road blocks are now road kill for those who’ve tried to stop our wheels from turning.
But perhaps most of all, UFC 100 acts as a break for me. I can fi nally take a rest. A rest from years of trying to change people’s views of us. A break from trying to convince anyone who would listen that our fi ghters are educated, top-of-the-food-chain athletes. It’s a nap from the constant struggle of trying to appeal to reasoning that others simply felt inclined to resist. Personally, I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m not so arrogant and stiff-necked as to believe my success has been my doing. It’s what we do with our outside infl uences that often help us in rising to higher heights. Mixed martial arts helped me achieve my success in the TV world more than any interview, source or story I’ve ever had. MMA is my passion and that passion has helped me launch a career I never dreamed possible – as I’m sure it was hard for Dana White to ever imagine UFC 100 being as enormous as it readies to be.
The word fad is now as taboo as using Vaseline on a fi ghter’s shoulders. Even our most average fi ghters are revered and admired by the biggest of celebrities. Just 50 UFCs ago, I’d have to pull strings to get my fi ghter buddies into clubs. Approaching UFC 100, the same guys now get paid just to show up to those very same clubs. I started to see a serious change in our sport about three and a half years ago. That’s about the same time my NFL gig got a bit harder. I used to get four interviews done in 40 minutes, four good interviews. Now I’d be lucky to get one, and that one often turned into a group Q&A about fi ghters, Dana White, new leagues, whatever. This past year Steelers All-World safety Troy Palamaulu approached me at training camp with , “Excuse me, are you Jay Glazer?” “Yeah Troy, how you doing?”
“I thought that was you. Would be it OK with you, if I could have like 15 minutes of your time? I’m a huge MMA fan and I would love to talk to you about it if you’re ok with that.” Are you serious? Here’s one of the most vicious hitters on a championship team reversing roles – essentially asking for my time instead of me asking for his… all because of MMA.
Now players and their agents ask how a guy can use MMA training to better his on-fi eld performance. Teams call asking for Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture or Bas Rutten to talk to their clubs. Corporations are asking for fi ghters at celebrity golf tournaments. It’s a whole new world. Say what you want about Dana White, but he and the rest of the UFC staff brought the sport legitimacy in a very short period of time. The given numerous guys fame and fortune. Fame and fortune that wasn’t imaginable just a decade ago.
Thank you Dana, Frank and Lorenzo for giving fans a place they can fi nd gracious athletes, more deserving than so many prima donna athletes who steal the highlight shows in other sports. UFC 100 is a bench mark for all of us. At least for this two months leading up to it, let’s not bitch, let’s not hate, let’s not moan. Let’s just celebrate the ride and the tidal wave we’ve become.
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