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MMA Live Hits Its Stride at 70 Weeks

BRISTOL, Conn. – More than a year after launched its MMA Live studio show, the weekly half hour of mixed martial arts news and analysis has reached the point where it just feels like three buddies chatting about the sport they love – as long as the buddies consist of one professional broadcaster, one veteran print journalist and one UFC fighter.

I sat in on the taping of Thursday's installment of MMA Live, and host Jon Anik, analyst Franklin McNeil and UFC fighter Kenny Florian all talked about the chemistry of the show being the most important ingredient to making it work.

"We're 70 shows in and we think we've hit our stride," Anik told me. "There's still a lot we can improve on, but we're happy with it."

"I genuinely like these guys," McNeil said. "They've become friends. We're all here because we work together, but I like them personally a lot. They're good friends."

As they sat on the set preparing to tape, Florian joked with Anik and McNeil about fighters like Sean Sherk and Josh Barnett claiming their positive steroid tests were falsified, saying the MMA Live crew should investigate who framed the two fighters and adding, "That and we're going to find the shooter on the grassy knoll."

Hard-core MMA fans are hoping that MMA Live will make the move from the internet to television, but my feeling, based on talking to people here in Bristol, is that ESPN is not particularly close to having that kind of MMA presence on TV. For now, the on-air talent at MMA Live seems happy enough where they are – even if the personal relationships made it tough for Anik and McNeil to watch Florian's recent loss to B.J. Penn.

"I'm learning not to get too emotionally attached to Kenny's fights," McNeil said. To that, Anik looked at Florian and said, "I put five grand on B.J."

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