Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – December 16, 2016

This Sunday, Dec. 18, Outside the Lines will explore the MMA and the dangers of weight cutting (9 a.m. ET, ESPN2) as reported by Will Cain.

“This topic was the brainchild of OTL coordinating producer Carolyn Hong. From what I understand, she and her husband follow the sport and learned more about how prevalent drastic weight cutting is in MMA,” Cain said. “It only took a few YouTube videos and learning the fact that you could sweat off dozens of pounds in a day’s time to peak my interest.”

Finding a current fighter who was willing to talk about the dangers they face in order to cut weight was a challenge.

“It took some time finding someone who was willing to not only tell us about how they cut weight, but also show us, and who had a fight and ‘cut’ in the near future,” Cain said. “While we were exploring, we learned of the predicament of women in the UFC and Cris “Cyborg” Justino in particular. It so happened that she had a documentary crew film her last weight cut and was very interested in talking about what it takes for her to make weight.”

After speaking with her, Cain says he was surprised at her vulnerability.

“Here is a woman who destroys other fighters in the ring, a fighter who is known for her aggressiveness, hell. . . her name is Cyborg,” he said. “But she is so human and vulnerable. She shared a lot of emotion about her weight cut, her war of words with Ronda Rousey and her fight with the UFC.”

The piece reveals what fans don’t ordinarily see, the events leading up to the big fight that are behind the curtain.

“When people watch an MMA fight, they are seeing the last ten minutes of a movie. They are reading the last chapter of a book. They may be seeing the climax, but not all the buildup that goes into that 10 minutes of action,” Cain said. “I spoke to many fighters, and to a man (and woman), they said the ‘real’ fight was the weight cut. That what went on in the cage was nothing in comparison. So I hope people will understand the dangerous fight that takes place before the televised fight.”

The topic is currently in the news as this week, the MMA announced an additional weight class for women fighters. Now, instead of two classes there will be three, topping out at 145 pounds.

“I’m disappointed the UFC didn’t participate in the story. The UFC has taken laudable measures to address extreme weight cutting,” Cain said. “I think the UFC has some questions to answer about the positions they’ve taken with Cyborg. But I also suspect they have reasons and answers to those questions. I wish they would have shared those answers.”

SC Coast to Coast anchor Champion returns to UCLA to interview Ball

SportsCenter anchor and UCLA alum Cari Champion returned to her alma mater this week to interview freshman basketball star Lonzo Ball. The interview will debut during today’s Coast to Coast (11 a.m. ET, ESPN).

“There were so many different emotions [being back],” Champion said. “I was really grateful because I had decided when I went to school there that I wanted to be a journalist. I wrote for the school paper and did all these different things that helped me develop who I am today.”

 

Like Champion at a young age, Ball knows exactly what he wants to do with his life and right now what matters most to him is winning.

“He [Ball] is so rare in his ability and he’s helped UCLA maintain an undefeated season,” said Champion, who co-anchors the 11 a.m. show with Bristol, Conn.-based David Lloyd. “We haven’t had that much hype around basketball since Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. The fact that he knows what he wants to do and winning is his priority, it’s pretty amazing for a 19-year-old kid.”

And Champion, along with many other UCLA fans, is enjoying watching her Bruins’ success. In fact, she was at Wednesday night’s Bruins win vs. UC Santa Barbara.

Although Ball’s main focus is on basketball, Champion was able to convince him to talk about another interest he has.

“He comes across as really shy. He eats, sleeps, breathes basketball. But what I did notice is that once you hit on an area that he’s excited about, something that is a hobby or interest, he will not stop talking. And for him he likes to rap,” Champion said. “I asked him about some of his favorite rappers of all time, his top 5, since it goes along with [a regular segment on our show] and that really got him to open up. Then I asked him to make up a rap about UCLA and he did. And to me that was the most entertaining and most carefree he’s been in any interview I’ve ever seen.”

By Molly Mita

Journalism on Display
  • ESPN The Magazine’s Wright Thompson chronicles 24-hours in the murder capital of the United States, where over the last week former Saints defensive end Will Smith’s shooter was sentenced, former Jets running back Joe McKnight was killed, and many other shootings occurred that no one even heard about.
  • UFC fighter Ronda Rousey is preparing for her return when she faces Amanda Nunes on Dec. 30. espnW reporter Ramona Shelburne sat down with Rousey at her home in Los Angeles to find out how a devastating loss changed Rousey’s life and why she has decided to return.
  • Serena Williams and Grammy-winning rapper Common have an in-depth conversation about tennis, fame, race and gender for The Undefeated this Sunday, Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.
  • A year ago D’Angelo Russell was mired in controversy, on a terrible team and playing poorly but now with his father close by things have dramatically turned around. ESPN writer Baxter Holmes tells the story of D’Angelo Russell on ESPN.com.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m., ESPN2) will be Mike Lupica (host), Mitch Albom, Ashley Fox and Israel Gutierrez.

By Molly Mita

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