Tonight at 9 p.m. EST on HDNet will be the show the always appears on the network at that time, namely, Inside MMA. The difference this time will be that tonight's episode is the 100th installment of the show. On the eve of this centennial milestone, we spoke with HDNet Fights CEO Andrew Simon about the challenges the show and network have faced in developing the program over the past two years, what's ahead for everyone involved and why the show still matters in an age where information and analysis are available in huge volumes in other mediums.
Luke Thomas: What was and now is the goal of Inside MMA?
Andrew Simon: To be the best MMA news program on television and showcase fighters from around the world.
Luke Thomas: What has been the hardest lesson to learn after 100 episodes?
Andrew Simon: We used to tape Kruck's Korner before the show so guests could comment on it while in studio, but we would miss out on late breaking stories. Inside MMA now has a second segment to make sure the show and our viewers don't miss out on anything.
Luke Thomas: Who has consistently been the best guest?
Andrew Simon: I think great guests come from great hosts, so I would rather show respect to Bas, Kenny and Ron. Because of them, we get the best guests in the MMA and entertainment world from Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Royce Gracie, Fedor, GSP, Gina Carano, Rob Schneider, Mickey Rourke, Anderson Silva, etc....we aim to be a show that top stars and up and comers want to come on.
Luke Thomas: Do you consider ESPN's "MMA Live" to be your top competition? If not, then who?
Andrew Simon: I think we are our toughest critic and competition. I just got off a call with our executive producers and a separate call with Kenny Rice on how we can even make the show better.
Luke Thomas: For viewers who may be unaware, how was Inside MMA changed since its inception?
Andrew Simon: We used to aim for a Hollywood guest on the panel each week - we learned that the "movie star" guest REALLY had to know MMA to not hurt their reputation among the MMA community.Luke Thomas: Sometimes the banter between the three guests and two hosts stalls out. Do you believe a format change is in order?
Andrew Simon: I think it rarely happens.....but I don't see them changing the Tonight Show for one or two off nights : )
Luke Thomas: Why hasn't anyone from Bloody Elbow ever been a guest? It's hard to argue we haven't impacted the digital media universe in MMA, yet we've never received an invite. Why?
Andrew Simon: Why wasn't I asked questions from Bloody Elbow till today ; )
Luke Thomas: How committed to Inside MMA is HDNet?
Andrew Simon: It is a major property for HDNet and you can expect emails from me when we get to our 200th episode! We are committed to this show and this sport.
Luke Thomas: Where do you see Inside MMA headed in the next year or two?
Andrew Simon: More LIVE Inside MMA from events from around the globe. This past weekend at the Strikeforce weigh-ins was a good example.
Luke Thomas: Are you worried with MMA's growth that other networks will try to create shows similar to Inside MMA?
Andrew Simon: It's up to us to make people want to watch Inside MMA. I never worry about what other's are doing - we have to make sure we are putting the best show on regardless. The growth of MMA will only help us.
Luke Thomas: Is there any hope of getting the UFC to soften it's position on not letting Inside MMA use multimedia, gain access to shows?
Andrew Simon: Ask them. I like to believe we have a good relationship with UFC.
Luke Thomas: What is the value add of Inside MMA given the volume of analysis and information available on other shows or in other mediums?
Andrew Simon: Inside MMA is the only show of its kind about MMA on television - true journalism that is unbiased and uncensored. I read tons of Internet sites, including yours, daily. No doubt about it that the Internet is a great source of info in the MMA world. I do think Inside MMA/HDNet offer value-add in that we have featured 135 different fight promotions in 39 states and 12 different countries in the first 100 episodes. When we say we will cover an event, smaller promotions may be able to get better fighters and bigger sponsors because they will be on Inside MMA on HDNet. That is value add for everyone!