Last night saw the excellent two-hour premiere of the new season of The Ultimate Fighter. Subtitled A Champion Will Be Crowned, this new season pits 16 of the best 115-pound women in the world in a tournament, with the winner becoming the first ever UFC women’s strawweight champion. Last night’s premiere featured one of the best fights the show has ever seen, a three-round tilt between Randa Markos and Tecia Torres. Despite being seeded well above her opponent, Torres fell to Markos’ crafty striking and superior grappling, giving the show the first of what will probably be many upsets and classic moments. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Sports (1-10 of 50)
NBC is adding Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski to its Kentucky Derby telecast as fashion correspondents next week, illustrating how the network’s coverage now reflects one of the most female-friendly televised sporting events of the year.
The two figure skaters, who were the breakout stars of NBC’s Sochi Olympics broadcast team, will comment on the fashionable outfits worn by members of the rich and celebrity-filled audience who try to avoid spilling mint juleps on their designer duds, the network said Tuesday.
As Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant prepares for his much-anticipated return to the NBA next season, Showtime is set to air its original documentary Kobe Bryant’s Muse, an in-depth look into the life, inspirations, and challenges facing the athlete. The feature-length documentary will air in the fall and is directed by Gotham Chopra (Decoding Deepak, ESPN’s upcoming 30 For 30 film, The Little Master). Bryant himself is the executive producer. READ FULL STORY
And the host of this year’s ESPYs is …. Drake!
The rapper/singer/actor/now-host will take the stage at the 2014 ESPYs to hand out awards for Excellence in Sports Performance. For a point of reference, last year’s show was hosted by Jon Hamm.
There’s no word yet on whether Drake will rap his way through the show, but we can only hope. Check out his announcement via Twitter below:
The UFC falls under the category of “sports,” but since its television breakout a decade ago, the spectacle of the events has become great TV. Despite the dozens of crossover stars and ascendent champions the Ultimate Fighting Championship has produced, it’s entirely possible that the most recognizable face of the UFC is that of announcer Bruce Buffer. With his authoritative bellow intoning his signature catchphrase “It’s Time!” Buffer has turned the simple act of introducing fighters into top-shelf television. His history with the company runs deep, and he’s as much a fan as he is one of the company’s most high-profile employees.
His exposure has grown steadily since the UFC struck a deal with Fox to air major shows on free network television a few years ago. This Saturday, the UFC raids Chicago to present UFC on Fox 10: Henderson vs. Thomson, and next Saturday, UFC 169 adds to the excitement of Super Bowl weekend when it airs live on pay-per-view from Newark, New Jersey, just a few miles away from MetLife Stadium. EW caught up with Buffer (who is also a semi-professional poker player and game developer) to talk about his life in fighting and who newcomers should pay attention to this weekend.
Entertainment Weekly: You are referred to as “The Veteran Voice of the Octagon.” When did you actually get started announcing shows?
Bruce Buffer: I started in 1996, that was my first show—UFC 8. Then I did UFC 10. Then I guest starred on Friends, and right after that they asked me back for UFC 13. On the set of Friends, the then-owner of UFC and I had the discussion where I said, “Look, I’ve been waiting like a girl waiting on a date to the prom. I’m happy to do the shows, but I want to do every show because I want to do more than just be your announcer. I want to help build the sport with my media contacts. I love it, I believe in it, and let’s make a deal.” That was the best poker hand I ever played. I basically announced every show from UFC 13 on. I’ve missed three shows in the last 17 years.
What was it that drew you to the UFC in the first place?
I’ve been into martial arts since I was 12. I had black belts in a style called Tang Soo Do, and also I kickboxed for a number of years. I have fighting in my blood. My grandfather was the champion of the world in boxing in 1921 in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions, and I’ve just been involved in the fighting world my entire life. I have an appreciation for what the fighters go through and what it takes to be a fighter, and the fact that they put their blood, sweat and tears on the line every time they walk to the the cage. It’s the loneliest job in sports, in my opinion, and these guys and girls deserve praise and so much honor. I want to be able to give as much to them and to the fans as I can.
What do you see as the biggest difference between the live product and the TV product?
Any UFC fan has got to experience a live event at least one time. READ FULL STORY
Tim Tebow was an all-time great as Florida’s Heisman-winning quarterback, but despite an improbable NFL playoff run that made him a folk hero in Denver in 2011, he’s currently out of football after being released by two different teams. Only 26, Tebow isn’t giving up on his playing career — officially — but he’s actively preparing for life after football.
Today, ESPN announced that Tebow will join the SEC Network as an analyst when it launches next August. “Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal. He will be a significant contributor to the compelling content we will deliver with the SEC Network,” said Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice president, programming, college networks. READ FULL STORY
Serious news has bumped fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy off SportsCenter.
Actor Will Ferrell was scheduled to reprise his role on a Thursday evening edition of the highlights show on ESPN. The network announced Wednesday night that the appearance had been scrapped because of the “potential implications” of the news conference scheduled Thursday afternoon about the investigation into sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.
ESPN says Ferrell’s guest spot hasn’t been rescheduled. His character has been on a media blitz to promote Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which included covering Canada’s Olympic curling trials and hosting a local newscast in North Dakota.
On Oct. 29, Hulu will premiere the new 10-episode series Behind the Mask, which follows sports mascots at four levels: high school (Lebanon High School’s Rooty the Cedar Tree), college (UNLV’s Hey Reb!), minor league (hockey mascot Tux of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), and professional (NBA mascot Bango of the Milwaukee Bucks). Watch the trailer below, and you’ll be surprised by how many emotions the four men stir in you as teen Michael describes the different greeting he receives from the cheerleaders when he’s out of costume; Jersey, a sixth-year college student, explains that there’s a reason why his dream job went from “policeman, to ninja, to professional mascot”; Chad tells himself he’ll make it out of the minor league and into the NHL; and pro Kevin, a family man, talks about his injuries.
In the second video, director/creator Josh Greenbaum speaks to why he’s always been fascinated by the idea of going inside the cloaked world of mascots and learning about their dual lives.
The knee whack heard ’round the world will be revisited near the 20th anniversary of the rivalry between Olympic figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, as one of six new documentaries on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.
The series’ second season begins Oct. 1 with “Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau,” about the big wave surfer and lifeguard.
It wraps up Nov. 5 with “Tonya and Nancy,” a look back at the Jan. 6, 1994, incident in which Kerrigan was clubbed on the knee after practice for the U.S. championships in a plot masterminded by Harding’s ex-husband. The film includes new interviews with Harding and people close to Kerrigan.
ESPN Films Vice President Connor Schell said Wednesday that they’re still trying to persuade Kerrigan to do an interview. She has mostly shunned the spotlight to focus on raising her family.
“Several people close to her have done interviews,” he told the Television Critics Association summer meeting. “We’re still working to get Nancy and hope by November that we do.”
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If Keith Olbermann wants to talk about politics on his upcoming nightly talker on ESPN2, he will. But, he says, it has to make sense first. “I’m not intending to talk about politics, certainly not in the partisan sense and not in the sense I have in the last ten years of work that I’ve done,” he said today during the first day of the Television Critics Association press tour, referring to his time on his MSNBC program Countdown. But, he admitted, “it’s a sports show and there will be occasions in which…we will have to talk about [it].”
Olberman, who recently settled a legal battle with Al Gore’s Current TV after he was fired from the network, also shot down reports that his contract included any limits on content and confirmed that that there will be no “pop culture segments.” “I’ve done and enjoyed and own the work I did in politics and news, but this is not what this is. I wanted to go back into sports,” he said.
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