The host of ESPN.com’s new mixed martial arts show “MMA Live”, Jon Anik, stops by for a chat with AtlanticMMA.com.

MMA Live’s 30 minute segment provides the mixed martial arts fan with the most fast paced, comprehensive, and informative MMA coverage out there. Hard-hitting interviews, great guests, and all the news and notes you need to stay up to date on all things MMA. MMA Live will air on ESPN.com every Thursday afternoon at 3 PM ET. It can also be seen on-demand by going to the MMA page at ESPN.com.

Jon is accompanied on the show by UFC lightweight standout Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian and renowned Newark Star-Ledger Boxing and MMA writer Franklin McNeil.

Jon Anik has been working in sports broadcasting since April of 2004, when he was hired at WWZN 1510 AM The Zone in Boston where he doubled as Business Manager and co-host of the afternoon drive show The Diehards. Jon still hosts The Mouthpiece Boxing Show on 1510 the Zone every Friday night at 6PM, and has covered over 20 championship fights since 2004. Jon began his career as a Sports Correspondent for The MetroWest Daily News before enrolling in The CSB School of Broadcasting in 2003, where he is currently a Sports Media Instructor. In March of 2006, Jon was hired as a SportsCenter Anchor by ESPN Radio in Bristol, CT. Jon now serves as an Anchor for ESPN MobileTV, ESPN Radio, and the aforementioned MMA Live on ESPN.com.

INTERVIEW

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
Jon the show is fantastic! I’ve very much enjoyed seeing the sport of mixed martial arts having much more of a presence on ESPN in the past six months. Entering into your sixth episode of MMA Live how do you feel the show is progressing, what impact will it have, and do you see the show gaining a timeslot on any of ESPN’s channels in the near future?

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
Thanks for the kind words, Jonathan. The response to MMA Live has been off the charts. MMA fans, as you probably know, are about as good as it gets in all of sports. They are passionate, beyond knowledgeable, and have been pining to see MMA content on ESPN for some time now. So, ESPN.com has stepped up and answered the bell, and hopefully the show will be on TV in the not-too-distant future. As for MMA Live’s potential impact on the sport, I think it could be huge. If we continue to be supported by MMA fans and websites like yours, I think we can be among the foremost conduits for MMA information, commentary, and, ideally, breaking news.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
Thank you for responding to AtlanticMMA.com’s inquiry so promptly. I think the fact that you guys are so willing to interact with your fans on a daily basis will foster that much better of a mixed martial arts news broadcast for ESPN. Could you talk a little bit about what kind fan friendly segments your show airs, what kind of feedback you would like from your viewership, and provide that contact information for our readers?

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
Happy to respond, man. As we state on the show every week, MMA Live’s future and success largely hinges upon the support of mixed martial arts fans. To that end, we have tried to incorporate viewers into the show as much as possible. We do two separate e-mail segments every week, where ‘MMA Nation’, can ask questions of our analysts. We really do read every single e-mail, and try to respond to as many suggestions as possible. Viewers can e-mail the show anytime: mmalive@espn.com I think the ‘Worldwide Leader’ does a great job across the board of accepting feedback and catering its content to the masses. MMA Live is no different.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
Let’s talk a little MMA. What are your thoughts on the legalization of mixed martial arts in the state of New York and more specifically an event (to steal a line from legendary announcer Keith Jackson) in “the granddaddy of them all”...Madison Square Garden? How big would it be for the sport to invade the largest media market in the world?

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
Well obviously as an MMA advocate and fan, I would love to see the legalization of mixed martial arts in New York State. You really can’t overstate how key it could be to the sport’s ultimate growth. Getting MMA to Madison Square Garden would just do wonders for the sport. I have covered many a boxing match at MSG, and I’m not sure there is a better fight crowd or atmosphere in the country. That said, it’s also vital for MMA to infiltrate other key markets, as the UFC is doing in Atlanta come September. MMA is so clearly on the right path on so many levels. I truly believe it is only a matter of time before MMA completely invades the mainstream. And the product, for the most part, is so compelling that MMA really sells itself once people are exposed to it.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
UFC 87 Seek and Destroy. How do you think ya’ boy Kenny is going to do against Roger El Matador Huerta?

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
As you can imagine, all of us at ESPN and MMA Live are pretty jacked up for Kenny’s fight in August against Roger. Kenny has wanted Huerta for a long time, and he’s happy to have the opportunity. By no means is Kenny taking Roger lightly, and I expect the fight to be competitive. But for Ken-Flo, a title shot likely awaits if he can get past Huerta, so I fully expect him to take advantage of the stage and seal the deal. Kenny Florian is as classy and approachable as any professional athlete I have ever come across, and I can’t wait to be in Minneapolis to watch him do his thing in the Octagon.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
As most fans know, the sport of mixed martial arts recently made it’s network television debut on CBS. Did you think EliteXC and CBS represented the sport justly, and you know I gotta ask about Kimbo?

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
I was in the building that night and, overall, I thought it was a success for MMA because of the astronomical TV numbers and exposure. Of course, longtime mixed martial artists and hardcore fans took issue with the fact that Kimbo Slice was the headliner, despite little-to-no MMA experience, and rightfully so I might add. I was just disappointed in Kimbo’s lack of wind! Had the fight gone longer, he might’ve passed out because of exhaustion. But I thought the EliteXC middleweight title fight was outstanding, and a good representation of high-level mixed martial arts. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments and improvements EliteXC makes for the July 26th event, another important night for the promotion.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
I noticed that you and Kenny Florian both grew up in Norfolk County. Is it purely coincidental that you guys are side by side on the same show or is there a connection? I mean you guys are around the same age. And interestingly enough I spoke with you and Kenny Florian’s strength & conditioning coach Kevin Kearns on the same day, who is also in and from eastern Mass. I’m in North Carolina, so I thought that was rather fortuitous.

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
Yes, purely coincidental. But I was thrilled when I found out that Kenny would be the lead analyst, especially given his Boston connection. Certainly was happy he had a Red Sox hat on when we met…We’ve had the chance to connect about growing up in Massachusetts, and I don’t think that bond hurts our chemistry at all. Kenny is certainly the face of MMA in Massachusetts, and hopefully he can do like the Patriots, Red Sox, and now Celtics and bring home a UFC Lightweight Championship.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
Alright last question…on the heels of EliteXC’s deal with CBS and Strikeforce’s deal with NBC, we essentially have one network left and one promotion left…you know what I’m going to ask right? Have you heard any rumblings up there in Bristol about a possible partnership between the UFC and Disney/ABC/ESPN?

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
Are you trying to get me excited, or fired? I can honestly say I am kept outside of that loop. But that would certainly be a dream scenario for me to have Disney/ABC/ESPN enter into a partnership with the sport’s top promotion. One thing I can tell you…we will ask Dana White about his interest in a network deal this week on MMA Live.

Jonathan Stamey
AtlanticMMA.com:
Jon, it’s been great talking to you and on behalf of the MMA fans and AtlanticMMA.com I’d like to thank you very much for your time.

Jon Anik
Host of MMA Live
ESPN.com:
My pleasure. We’ll get you Ken-Flo next time! Continued success with AtlanticMMA.com and we appreciate your support of MMA Live.

Jonathan Stamey is a writer and Director of Operations for the new mixed martial arts media website AtlanticMMA.com. Send Jonathan a question or comment at jstamey@atlanticmma.com for potential use in a future column