It’s been a wild couple days for the staff of Bloody Elbow, who found out on Friday, January 20th, that our site founder and manager had been let go in the latest wave of Vox layoffs. Despite the short notice for the official termination of his position it was, to paraphrase Nate’s own words, something that he’d seen coming for a while now.
Obviously its news that none of us here at BE wanted to hear. Practically all of us over the years had been, if not headhunted by ‘Kid’ Nate directly, brought up to speed, and shepherded along in our sports writing careers by his steady hand. Bloody Elbow became the site it is now because of his eye for talented voices and his willingness to let them work as best suited their strengths.
I first wormed my way into a job with Bloody Elbow back in 2013, through my years as a dedicated commenter and FanPost writer. Not long afterward I was guest hosting on the MMA Vivisection alongside Nate and BE OG Dallas Winston. Shortly after that Nate and I started the 6th Round post-fight show. Over the years I’ve moved from lowly content writer to a position as a senior editor and full steward of the Vivi the 6th Round and several other shows over the years. It’s been a great ride, and one that’s always felt unique to BE’s work environment and willingness to let our writers go where their spirit leads them.
It’s something that I hope to continue to bring to our site as we move forward (and I’m very hopeful that we will move forward in some form) into the future. For all the managing I’ve done here over the years, I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who fought for our staff and their sense of well being first and foremost, and that’s entirely down to the culture Nate established.
It’s on that note then, that I want to say thank you to Kid Nate, and whatever his future endeavors may be. Hopefully time enough will see us back working together somewhere down the road.
Anton Tabuena: I joined BE during the website’s early days, back when Kid Nate and Luke Thomas were running things together. Going from a college kid in the fanposts, to site moderator, staff writer, editor and eventually as the Managing Editor, I guess I can say pretty much grew up with Bloody Elbow.
In those 13 or 14 years, I’ve grown alongside the site, learning so much from Nate himself, and also from the incredible talent that he has fostered through the years — which has always been his biggest strength.
When I started out, I just thought this could be a fun side job. I didn’t even think it would be possible to have a proper career in MMA, especially for a Filipino living halfway around the world, but Nate trusted and believed in me enough to hand me the reins.
As BE grew and evolved so much through the years, I’ve seen so many people come and go. This one isn’t at all the same though, and it stings extra as I believed we were building something really great with Nate. I honestly still do.
BE has been so intertwined with my life for so long, especially in the last eight years in this role, that it’s hard to even imagine it any other way. I don’t even know what happens next, but I do know that I’m beyond grateful for everything I’ve been through with Nate up to this point.
Tim Bissell: The only reason I’m here is because I kept bugging Nate back in 2015 about letting me write for BE. I loved reading the site and was desperate to be apart of what he had built here. After pestering him and doing a few pieces here and there he gave in and said, “do you just want to be a staff writer?” For the first few years I balanced writing for BE with my previous career. However, as my day job grew more problematic and my enjoyment at BE grew I asked Nate if I could do more for the site. That lead to me being able to quit the old career and become a full time blogger. A few years later Nate asked me to become an editor and deputy site manager.
From day one, Nate has been a constant source of encouragement and wisdom. He’s always sought to push me forwards and never held me back. If I had an idea for something, he wanted me to run with it. This relationship has lead to the most satisfying professional and creative work I’ve ever done. I feel like Nate has a gift for seeing what people are good at, and passionate about, and just letting them go off.
The fact that a lot of what I’ve wanted to pursue goes against the grain, speaks even more to Nate’s trust in his writers. I’ve been able to cover crime, corruption, head trauma, domestic abuse, politics and war to a degree that I don’t think any other site would allow me. I’ve burned a lot of bridges personally through this (not that they were bridges I ever wanted to cross over) and some of that probably extends to the site itself. But Nate believed in what I was doing, so he would never tell me to not write something for fear it would piss off someone powerful in the sport.
I honestly don’t know what will become of BE in the coming days, weeks, months... But no matter what comes next, this has been the ride of my life. I’ve done my best work here and I’ve made friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. I thank Nate for all of that.
Additionally, Nate has not only been a great mentor for me as a blogger and quasi-journalist, but as a father, too. My life completely changed, in the best way possible, in 2020. And Nate gave me a lot of support and guidance as I took my first steps into parenthood. I’ll never forget that.
Hail to the Kid.
Karim Zidan: Over the past nine years, I have worn many hats at Bloody Elbow. From staff writer and associate editor to feature writer and investigative reporter, I have been given a plenty of opportunities to experiment and grow as a writer. Naturally, it goes without saying that none of that would have been possible without Nate.
Ever since I joined BE in 2014, Nate has been an influential figure in my career. He encouraged me to find my niche, challenged me to dig deeper than my colleagues in the MMA space, and pushed me to grow as a writer. As the years drew on, Nate morphed from a boss to a mentor—a constant figure in my professional life that I knew would be there to help me talk through any situation that could arise. Even when times were difficult and my work began to draw ire from the rich and powerful, Nate stood by my side and defended me when others would have rolled over.
As my career blossomed and more of my resources were directed at other websites such as The New York Times or The Guardian, Nate celebrated my achievements and took pride in the fact that one of his homegrown writers had found success—a testament to the kind of person he was.
Though I do not know what the future holds, I am eternally grateful to have had a boss as caring, empowering, and courageous as Nate. I, and many others, would not be where we are today without him by our side all these years.
Thank you, Nate.
Chris Rini: Every artist has the same dream, that someone with influence, power, and money will stumble across their work and be so inspired that they use those resources to help the artist’s career take off to the moon. While mostly a fairy tale, Nate provided a realistic version of that dream to me. I started posting satyrical MMA cartoons on Twitter in January 2018 and by March he’d hired me to turn them into a weekly column. Later that year I was in Austin, Texas visiting family and I tracked Nate down in person, pitched the idea of a daily cartoon and he took another chance on me. What followed has been the most productive stretch of my artistic career since college. MMA Squared kick started a book series, revived a dormant art studio, and helped me stay grounded as my family moved to another country. I’ve got a level of experience and momentum thanks to these opportunities at Bloody Elbow to meet whatever the future holds. Thank you Nate, you did good.
As a side note: I was a ravenous consumer of MMA media before becoming part of it and quickly realized that Bloody Elbow was the place to go for a level of brutal honesty, criticism, and analysis. My own participation aside, I admire the talent that resides here and came before my time.
David Castillo: Over the last couple of years, I’ve cycled through losing, quitting, and finding jobs. I’m privileged in the sense that I owe my inner strength to a lot of people: friends, family, the new Elder album, and the In the Loop-level way rich people keep exposing themselves as nothing more than fart catchers with trust funds (which is why we’re here in the first place; “cutting costs” they say, when what they really mean is “poor planning”). Needless to say, I’ve been hit in the gut by the same mack truck as most less fortunate people during COVID. But somehow, it always felt like a smaller problem than willfully surrounding myself with toxic people who think an artificial hierarchy or stacks of money gives cause to belittle those with less. What’s my point? I mentioned the people I owe my inner strength to, and Kid Nate—a man I otherwise don’t actually know—is one of them.
It’s always a little bit harder when your interests aren’t as universal. I’ve always been a bit of a goof, and so are my interests. I’ve always wanted to write stuff I would personally want to read. Nate let me have that voice; not only as my first shot at journalism, but as my first opportunity to do what I’ve always loved—writing. He let me do my own thing, which was talking about concussions in 2011 before the rest of the world was dragged kicking and screaming into struggling with the dark realities of CTE, asking aloof but hard science questions over whether fighters could train their sense of smell, and digging deep into the wretched MMA movie subgenre. All the while, Phil and I got to take the piss with some of our previews. For almost an entire decade, Nate gave me a platform to entertain, and educate, but with the edge that sports journalism is almost always devoid of. That’s not a small thing; not for someone like me who aches for unique angles to public conversation, and not for the loyal readers who could share in that unlikely coverage. I get chills just thinking about how people like Patrick Wyman and David Epstein were my audience. Me! Little old, MTG-obsessed me!
I know this is kind of selfish (look at me!) but I don’t know Nate, save for some perfunctory emails about pay and scheduling. But it’s also irrelevant, as odd as that sounds. I was a stranger to Nate, outside of the fanposts and long-winded comments with the peanut gallery, but you don’t have to become friends with people to treat them like they’re needed. Nate treated me like my goofy voice belonged in this sport’s conversation. Nothing could empower my writing more than being given that opportunity. Now things are a little steadier. I write for the best all-things-Dallas sports coverage around (talking about another lameduck sport I love; hockey), and I actually finished a novel (which doesn’t count until it’s published I know) and have begun my second. Writing is a big part of my life. It’s also a source of strength. It’s the outlet I needed when things were at the worst. Nate was the first root, helping me nourish that strength; for that, I’ll always owe him, as well the community he helped build.
I’m in my second stint with Bloody Elbow. My first run with the site ended in 2014 when I moved to MMA Junkie. I tend to burn bridges on my way out the door, but I didn’t do that with BE. The reason? Everyone at the site at the time treated me honestly and fair and I tried to do the same. If you’ve ever worked in MMA, you know that’s rare.
I quit MMA Junkie after a few years. When I did that I figured I was done writing about MMA as anything more than a hobby. But in 2019, Mookie Alexander reached out to me to see if I wanted to jump back in with Bloody Elbow. I did. Not long after that, Nate asked me if I wanted to bump up my contributions to the site. I did. And that’s how I got to where I am today with Bloody Elbow.
When I left MMA Junkie I didn’t think I would get another gig in MMA and I understood why. I don’t know what inspired the folks at BE to invite me back, but I’m thankful they did. I also know that if my time at the site comes to an end, it’s likely that my time writing about MMA will also end because no other site covers the sport in the way that Bloody Elbow has and I doubt that my approach to looking at MMA would be a fit anywhere outside of BE.
So, I thank Nate for taking a (second) chance on me. I thank him for his trust in my writing and for allowing me to tackle the things I find interesting — or more often enraging — about MMA. I hope things won’t change here on BE and because of my trust in Nate and the culture he has established over the years, I trust the editors will continue to follow his vision.
Stephie Haynes: This March, 2023 will mark 11 years that I’ve worked for Nate. He took a chance on a loud-mouthed gal with no refinement and never doubted his decision, backing me in times of need, providing a shoulder to cry on here and there, guiding me with marvelous advice and imparting his decades of wisdom without ever needing to be asked for these things. I’m beyond grateful for the integrity he operated Bloody Elbow with and remain hopeful that our “Little Engine that Could” keeps chugging along, bringing balanced reporting to a space that has so little of it these days.
Thank you, Nate, for giving so many of us our first real break in this business. I’ve been in this space as media in one form or another for 17 years now, and a fan since 2003, but I feel like my time at BE has been the most important and fulfilling. There isn’t any other site that provides the unflinching coverage of the topics most others don’t want to touch with any real in-depth coverage, and that is due to Nate’s ethical standards. You’ve encouraged truth-telling from Jump Street and that has been a major boon to us all. I have no doubt that moving forward, Bloody Elbow will be in wonderful hands with the editors you hand-picked to carry on the legacy of the greatest online karate magazine ever.
Victor Rodriguez: I hate that guy. He’s absolutely psychotic. You all don’t realize who the real Kid Nate is. Back when he was going by the “King Nate“ persona (which was frankly done better by both Macho Man Randy Savage and Booker T), he was offended that I did not address him by his official royal title. When I pointed out that the title was not really that of nobility and could not be official by virtue of the fact that he, well... made it up, he teased me for not knowing the words to the “Humpty Dump”, as he called it.
Days went on and one day I hear a knock on my door. I open the door and to my absolute shock, it was Nate. He had a big Macy’s bag that I presumed contained some sort of peace offering.
Folks, there was no peace in that man’s heart that day.
He proceeded to pull out a lead pipe like Mayor Mike Haggar and absolutely nail the absolute shit out of both of my kneecaps. Then he pulled out a small velvet glove that I can only presume he stole from some French dandy after defeating him with the same treacherous tactics. This was not the good man I was led to believe he was. He beat my ass worse than Mookie Alexander did. At the very least, Mookie spared me the indignity of insulting me in front of my neighbors, who are quite used to seeing me emasculated publicly, harshly and publicly.
Don’t worry, I deserve it.
What I don’t deserve is to be repeatedly be called a “broke Wilmer Valderrama“, or a “Meredith Baxter-Birney-looking bitch“. I’m sure this must be a crime somewhere, but my local police said that somehow and for some reason He Who Must Not Be Named operates outside of the law, with no regard for life or decency. He walked off and smugly said something about “that’s what you get for shouting out adult performers on the podcast“ and “recording while ‘not sober’“ or something. I couldn’t tell, because the ugly crying distorted my hearing. He then laughed like that damn dog from the Hanna Barbera cartoons. I hate that dog.
But for real, I love that dude. He didn’t have to give me a chance to be a mod, but he did. He didn’t have to invite me on the 6th Rounds every now and again, but he did. He didn’t have to say yes to me doing Vivisections and eventually writing, but he (and Zane, I see you) did. And I’m so immensely grateful. My groupchat of friends were mostly BE people. I’ve gotten the experience to help out behind the scenes and do so much that it’s led to me travelling and covering events elsewhere, meeting fighters, movers and shakers, promoters, PR people, production staff, etc from different places.
I grew up on Long Island and was a Knicks fan from age 12. My dream was to be at a game at the magical world-renown venue - Madison Square Garden, and I never got the chance. By working for BE, I was able to not only be there, but to see two of my favorite all-timers in Wanderlei and Fedor the same night covering the 2017 Bellator event. Did it go great for them? No. Was it sad seeing them go out the way they did? Absolutely. But I got that. And it couldn’t happen without him.
Most importantly, he helped foster this community. It’s an inclusive space that tries to be knucklehead-free. He’s given the same opportunities for so many others and always tried to be as fair as possible.
Any time I’ve needed advice, he’s been happy to help. He got the ball rolling on stuff I’ve worked on and always encouraged me to hustle and push forward. And while I’m sad to see him leave, I’m at least glad that we got to know each other the way we have, share a genuine friendship, will still be in touch with each other, and that he’s at peace with the situation. I’m happy for him and his family that they’re well, and can only wish him the best. When we’ve had our worst challenges (and if you know, you very well goddamn know), he went to bat for us and did what he could.
So be easy, Nate. You may not be real royalty lineage, but you’re a king to me. I’ll be sending more cigars soon. Just don’t try to beat my ass again, I’ve been doing Pilates.
Derek Schott: When I first joined Bloody Elbow almost 11 years ago, I never envisioned that I would wind up working behind the scenes as a member of the staff. I signed up because I saw that what Nate had created here wasn’t just different from all the other MMA websites/forums out there, it was a safe haven in a wasteland filled with knuckle dragging meatheads.
The writers didn’t walk on eggshells or avoid a given topic just because it may upset Dana and the UFC. And they fostered a community that was warm and welcoming to everyone, where intolerance wouldn’t be tolerated, and those who couldn’t treat others with basic respect were quickly shown the door. In my time here I’ve made a lot of friends and created a lot of fond memories, things I wouldn’t have today if it wasn’t for Nate.
So I wanted to say thank you Nate. Thank you for creating a place away from the normal internet toxicity, because without that I never would have discovered that I actually really enjoy writing, and thank you for taking a chance on me when you didn’t have to. You won’t be forgotten and your influence on the world of MMA will continue to be felt for years to come.
Kevin Bradley: As a very recent addition to the writing staff, my interactions with Nate aren’t extensive. I only became aware of an opening here eight months ago, thanks to a friend and former Bloody Elbow writer Danny O’Donnell. Danny was moving on to a new opportunity, and told me how this place was a wonderful environment for writers to flourish thanks to it’s passionate editorial staff.
I was linked up with Nate, who reviewed my prior work and thought I’d be a good fit. Only now do I see how big a compliment that was, to have such a respected eye in this field tell me I might not have wasted my journalism degree. My prior experiences covering MMA range from bumpy exits to blogs that forgot to pay their writers, so the vote of confidence went a long way.
Since then, he and the rest of the team have helped me spot bad habits in my work and helped me improve whenever possible. Nate was especially helpful in giving me new avenues to focus on, making sure to check in with me as I grew more comfortable in my role. You quickly realize how important a site like BE is, and how few organizations are willing to criticize the status quo. And unlike my past writing jobs, the checks always cleared.
To Nate, thank you. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to do real work for the sport that I love, and reach more people than I ever have before. I’m sorry we didn’t get to work together longer, but I hope your next project enriches the world as much as your last one has.
Mookie Alexander: I’m having a hard time figuring out what to write. It’s still a shock for me that Nate was let go by Vox and it’s difficult to process. He is synonymous with Bloody Elbow—he’s a founding editor, for crying out loud!—and therefore synonymous with the MMA media ecosystem. This has been my go-to place for MMA and other combat sports news for going on 14 years.
I don’t think it should be lost on anyone reading this that there has been very little turnover at the top of BE over the past several years. When I left last August it was the first time since 2015 that BE had lost any high-ranking editor for whatever reason. This is a tight-knit family-like atmosphere within the staff that I don’t believe can be easily replicated elsewhere. “Culture” is an overused word these days, but there is a great culture within BE that I always felt comfortable with.
I’m forever thankful for Nate for having me on the Bloody Elbow team as a writer and eventually associate editor over the past ten years. I was fresh out of high school when I joined the staff and I more or less learned about the inner workings of the job (and the industry as a whole) on the fly. He and the rest of the more experienced writers helped me become a better writer and it allowed me to grow into bigger roles and responsibilities within BE. Without Nate it’s very likely I never would’ve advanced my career to my current role as a full-time NFL producer for SB Nation.
What’s made Bloody Elbow great for so long is the ability to push the envelope and tackle sensitive but serious issues within combat sports. You’d be hard-pressed to find another MMA outlet with the willingness to cover fighter pay, domestic violence, promoter finances, CTE, PED use, politics, etc. at the same level as BE, and that is all owed to Nate. Just because he stopped writing doesn’t mean he wasn’t working with the staff behind the scenes on the direction of the site, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. Our creative freedom and ability to explore our passions has never been suppressed, which is a major part of why Nate’s such an awesome boss.
Thanks for everything, Nate. This place will not be the same without you.
June M. Williams: It’s hard to know what to say and what not to say. I feel paralyzed and quite frankly grief-stricken to learn that Nate has been let go. I am sad, angry and shocked all at once. I am not sure how to move forward at SB Nation without him to talk to nearly every day – for any reason whatsoever.
I am an unusual case here at BE. Because although I didn’t start out here at BE, I did start out being hired by Nate. At the time, I had worked voluntarily for a year (in 2010) helping to build Cageside Seats (the Pro Wrestling blog). I was addicted to the comments section and became a moderator while making fanposts and eventually being hired on and actually paid to write, then moving from writer, to features author (running features for CSS like the ‘PPV Pick Em Game’, the ‘CSS Annual March Madness Wrestling Tournaments’, on to ‘site HR’ - basically hand selecting people from the fanposts to bring on board staff, training them in our methods and writing techniques and in 2012 finally becoming Assistant Site Manager. Nate taught me so much in those early years. He was so easy to come to with any issue, on any level.
As an older woman with a disability, I had accommodations I had to ask for from time-to-time and he was always empathetic and guided me along the way, always making sure I was taken care of. In 2013, it was time for me to leave CSS for personal reasons and Nate basically created a position for me working for the Combat Sports Division. I did various tasks for Bad Left Hook, MMA Mania and also BE. He let me found the ‘BE’s Baddest Tournament’ several years in a row with Fraser Coffeen, and run a tourney for ‘The Daily Norseman’, as well. I got to use my art degrees making graphics and logos from day one at CSS, right up until today. He knew I needed that creative outlet in my life, and that it gave meaning and purpose to my work; especially when sometimes the work was tedious work no one else wanted to do (spreadsheets, reports, ad embedding, timestamping, just to name a few).
Here we are about 13 years later, and I am Manager of the BE Presents Podcast Network, I get to do editorial work, author posts, create graphics, create video content, manage several Podcast fb pages, manage the BE Presents Podcast Network SoundCloud and YouTube Channels, I have even occasionally helped out with our Combat Culture YT Channel over the years. Several years ago, he put me together with Stephie Haynes which has resulted in an awesome friendship and work relationship. Somehow Nate just knew we would work well together, he had a knack for that.
Since coming to BE almost exclusively since 2013, I have worked with every single podcast team and show we have produced and the ones Nate worked on were so much fun! I’ve gone on to create ads, do ad embedding and video optimization, managed spreadsheets and even generated reports for Nate. Working with writers like Shakiel Mahjouri, Eddie Mercado, Danny O’Donnell, & Nick Baldwin to produce their fighter/MMA interviews has been especially enjoyable. I have received so much variety in my work, so much autonomy and freedom, that I have never been happier. I can truly say I love my work... and Nate is a HUGE part of that. NONE of this would have been possible for me without Nate putting these tasks in my hands, trusting me with them and letting me run with a guiding hand if I ever faltered.
And when I have had personal issues or health concerns affecting my life, he helped me push a Go Fund Me on the site to help me through my cancer. He has always helped me find ways to support my family, always been there to help get me through the tough times. He was always only a phone call, text or Gchat away – always helping me find guidance, advice, focus, drive and feel truly cared about. He was by far the best “boss” I have ever had, I can now call him friend as well. I even got to work with him on his fascinating ‘Let it Roll Podcast’ and the ‘If The Shoes Fit Podcast’, in addition to BE – when in need of extra cash if times were tough for my family. He is the one who made all this happen. Solely him.
Even now, being laid off by VOX with a mere 15 mins notice, despite seeing it coming, he has been checking in on ME to see how I am doing, stating he is fine, but his concern lies with me and my co-workers, and wanting to express concern for me and reassure me no matter what the future holds, to trust him when he says that I will be okay. I view him as one of the few men in my life, besides my Dad (whom I lost at a young age), that I can trust to always give it to me straight, always care about my well-being, always fight for me, and always be there when I am in need.
He is such a unique man in this day and age, because he is a man with integrity, strong moral fortitude, a tremendous work-ethic, generous of his time, and is truly talented at doing his job – and doing it WELL. To my knowledge, he has always gone above and beyond with every person he has brought on board and taught us all so much. It is due to Nate being our founder and mentor that this site has grown into something we are all so proud to be a part of today.
So, it is truly our loss, and VOX’s loss, for him to move on to undoubtedly better things. He deserves to be truly appreciated for being such a talented, intelligent and magnanimous manager and human being. I am not embarrassed to admit I have shed tears these past few days imagining work without him, and also in figuring out how to write this down. No adjectives are enough, which is why I utilized plenty. Thank you Nate, for being you and for always having my back.
Lucas Rezende: In March 2015, I was a 25-year-old journalist without a job since July 2014. I had been laid off from my first reporting job, working for one of the biggest newspapers in my hometown. Sure, I already talked about MMA on other projects on the internet, but nothing the size Bloody Elbow. Plus, I didn’t get paid for any of the work I did for those other websites. Also, other than being good at English, I had no experience writing news stories in the language.
I knew someone who did, though. MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz had already been an established member of the website when we both were on one episode of Sexto Round’s (Brazilian MMA channel) podcast in early 2015. After we wrapped the episode, I worked up the courage to ask Cruz if there were any spots open for another Brazilian writer on MMA Fighting. Mind you, I had been unemployed for over six months at the time.
Guilherme’s reply was not the one I hoped for, but it came with a silver lining. It was along the lines of “Sorry, man. They’re not looking for any Brazilians at the time, but I heard Bloody Elbow is”. Great, one door opens as another closes, right? It’s what I thought, too. I mean, the only reason why I asked about MMA Fighting was because that’s where Cruz worked, but Bloody Elbow already was one of the many MMA websites I used to visit every day at the time. If I could land that, it would be just awesome.
That same day, I sent them an e-mail and it was Nate who answered it. After a few exchanges, he told me I could write some news as fanposts so he could see what I had to offer. After that, all I have to say is I’m glad he found me worthy. I ended up getting the longest-running job of my life, but I learned so much more along the way.
Nate has always been a true leader for me, and a friend. Not only did he help me learn the ropes when I first started, but he was there when I had doubts and really just to talk. He encouraged me to pursue more investigative work and constantly motivated me to expose the dirt in my most political stories, which shaped me into a better writer and a better journalist.
Furthermore, we share so much of the same interests that talking to him on slack could go on for hours. We’d play chess, talk about politics, music and even the MMA news business itself. This guy helped me grow as a professional and made me truly understand the hidden part of this business, while being the best boss I will probably ever have. It’s no wonder everybody on Bloody Elbow, and even other websites, will dearly miss his presence. Thanks for giving me that first chance and for everything that came after in the last eight years, Nate!
Kristen King: Joining Bloody Elbow was quite a surprise. I was writing for other outlets when Tim Bissell sent a message about potentially joining the team. Of course, I was interested! BE was one of the main outlets I would visit when I was a mere fan of mixed martial arts, so it was such a surreal experience being considered for the opportunity. Bissell connected me with Nate Wilcox, who read some of my previous pieces and brought me on the team. I was nervous as hell! Have you seen some of the writers attached to BE?! But Nate eased those nerves and helped me settled in. Any questions? Nate was there. Any pitches? Nate listened.
Aside from the usual pieces, he was open to any “cool ideas” I may have had. And boy, did I have cool ideas. Everyone has their niche here at BE, and I settled into mine immediately. When I was ready, I pitched my first idea to Nate (and the rest of the editors): a series that would feature some of the worst injuries in the sport. Gross, right? But Nate gave me the green light, and the rest, as they say, is history.
To Nate, thank you for the opportunities you have given me in the past two years. Thank you for helping me flourish as a writer. Thank you for being so encouraging. Thank you for everything. We may have had a short time together, but I am so grateful for all of it. I wish you all the best in your next chapter.
Eddie Mercado: Kid Nate is my big brother. Before I met him, I was a hardcore MMA fan who didn’t really interact with the martial arts community, outside of my own personal circle. After meeting Nate, he showed me that there was an entire world of internet soldiers that loved fighting the same way that I do, and I knew I had to be a part of it.
It started with covering betting odds, and then morphed into podcasts, results posts, fighter interviews, etc. Before I knew it, I was hooked on creating content. With Bloody Elbow I’ve traveled around the globe covering events, training, competing, all while building relationships with like-minded people. There’s a good chance that I would not have any of those experiences if it weren’t for Kid Nate. He took a chance on me, and really did change my life. I am forever grateful for the privilege of working under Nathan Wilcox!
Eugene Robinson: There are few true impresarios left. People who have the perspicacity to see what others have missed right before they realize they’ve missed it and capitalize on it. I know two. Lydia Lunch, whose nose for talent, and willingness to aid it, is noteworthy. And Kid Nate, a name I delight in pronouncing Kid Nah-Tay, like the women’s bath fragrance.
Whereas a Luke Thomas finds the prospect of having me on his show risible, Kid Nate not only had me on his show, he gave me a show, and continued to aid and abet my particular band of hate up to and including the writing of this very sentence itself. Sure, he poached me from the now-defunct KMBT, Combat Music Radio, but his ability and willingness to let the world know how deep and wide the very essence of my genius was, was especially noteworthy.
Because it would have been just as easy to do nothing. Even in the face of the prodigious amount of earthly brilliance that I haul around. On the regular.
So, when I hear that Kid Nate got laid off about a week after I got laid off my first thoughts were simply: “how the hell is he going to help me NOW? That SOB. You have GOT to be kidding me!”
But now that I have had time to reflect and look a little deeper into the things in life that matter I know this: come hell or high water Kid Nate will bounce back and get to doing what’s really important in this life...helping Eugene S. Robinson.
Until then, sir...good speed and best wishes!
John S. Nash: I am more than a little late to this, but decided I should still give me thoughts on Nate leaving Bloody Elbow (and Bloody Elbow leaving Vox.)
Discovered BE in 2008, joined the community and started commentating as “nottheface” in 2009, starting writing fanposts in 2010, got roped into writing for the now defunct sister-site Head Kick Legend in 2011, and then Nate asked if I could start posting with my real name on Bloody Elbow in 2012. So all the blame does belong to Kid Nate for ( asking doesn’t seem strong enough) - pestering me to post first my history pieces and then later my feeble attempts at investigative reporting here on Bloody Elbow.
MMA reporter has always been a time-consuming hobby, one that I would have abandoned years ago if not for a couple things, both of which are again Kind Nate’s fault. First, he gave me a place to write. Other sites would not post many of my articles. In fact, several of the pieces that I did end up posting were first commissioned by other sites. The original UFC finances series I did back in 2015 was written for another MMA site, but was rejected after I turned it in, because, I quote, it was “too detailed.” Nate, of course, had no such qualms posting it. Occasionally we run into problems with the “higher ups” who would delay or put up numerous hurdles before we could run a story (usually after someone else “beat us to it” but on a few rare cases they never gave us the green light) but I always had faith that Nate was backing me to the hilt. If it wasn’t for him I can confidently say several stories we (this includes Zidan, Bissell, Brookhouse, Tabuena, Rodriguez, Reinsmith, et al) ended up posting would not have made the pages of a major MMA site.
Second, he paid for my work. I didn’t make a fortune writing MMA part time, but he made it mostly worthwhile for me to do it. It’s rare enough to get paid in MMA, rarer still to get paid enough that you don’t feel you’re getting ripped off, but it’s practically unheard of to get paid for stories that don’t drive any traffic. But for Nate it was worth it if he felt those stories needed to be written. The fact that he did it for a guy that dropped the ball on meeting deadline (or promises) as much as I did says a lot about Nate.
Hopefully he can keep BE going and I’m cautiously optimistic it will be an even better site if it’s run independently. But for now it’s a bittersweet - although hopefully only temporary - farewell to Kid Nate.