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Podcast Review: The Best of MMA Podcasts

I have been a fan of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) since a long time before it became uber-cool among the Reformed. (In addition, I have smoked a couple of cigars in my life; got tattooed in the 80’s; and refused to shave since I got out of the Navy in ’93. If the New Calvinists start inventing their own board games, I will know for sure that they are all copying me.) I have also recently become a podcast junky, as my current employment affords me seven hours a day of listening time. In this article I have fused those two interests, MMA and listening to podcasts, and am happy to present my top three MMA podcast recommendations, in ascending order.

3. Phone Booth Fighting (iTunes)

The MMA expert on this program is the former UFC heavyweight champ, Frank Mir. His experience and expertise make his commentaries on the fight-game first-class. His co-host is named Richard Hunter. I gather his background is in broadcasting and maybe stand-up comedy. Though the MMA stuff on this show is the star, or ought to be, personally I find it doubly entertaining when Hunter does this bit where he plays the part of a stereotypical left-wing pseudo-intellectual. He’ll go off on tangents about how great it would be to live in a Marxist utopia. Or, just as a for-instance, he took the skit to a whole new level on the August 5th show where he morphed into a social-media militant atheist, going on about how illogical Christianity is. Hilarious! He actually said his first argument against Christians is often to point out that he thinks a loving God should just forgive everybody, even if they don’t want to be forgiven. Bam! That’s gold right there, brother. Comedy gold! Oh, wait. I’ve just been handed an update. Apparently this is not a bit. Hunter really thinks that way. I don’t know. I find that hard to believe.

I have trouble believing it for a few reasons. First, when he’s not rabidly advocating Socialism, he’s shilling goods and merchandise that will fund the program. He’s offering T-shirts and other paraphernalia in exchange for...wait for it…Capital! Second, he apparently misses the irony of a partisan Marxist podcasting: Using technological advancements of the sort that have never, ever been, and cannot be, produced by communal societies. Podcasting itself, and all the underlying tech, has been brought to you by the market, where services are traded for profit. And third, the thought that someone actually walks around on this planet convinced that he’s the intellectual superior to everybody, and is willing to broadcast it, that’s got to be made up.

My last note on the show is a warning that the language can get a bit Navy at times.

2. The MMA Hour With Ariel Helwani (iTunes)

The only irony with this show is that The MMA Hour is generally closer to four hours than one hour. Of course “The MMA Three Hours and Change” doesn’t roll off the tongue as well. This is the go-to podcast for pure MMA news. Helwani is a true professional as a journalist, as was recently proven during a dust-up with the brass at the UFC who banned him from their events as payback for doing his job. He got that decision reversed, by sticking to his guns and crying in public. So, good for him. His show is the first one I play on the day it comes out. He has a truly amazing amount of contacts within the industry and each episode is stuffed to the gills with substantive interviews with fighters and insiders. Christian journalists, or those who aspire to be, could do a lot worse than to follow Helwani’s example. I mean, minus the crying, which should be saved for special holiday editions, obviously. Regardless, the man knows his stuff and does his job with excellence. I end with the same language warning as above. Helwani himself speaks professionally at all times, but he is routinely interviewing people with no skill set more virtuous than choking people, so...there’s that.

1. You’re Welcome! With Chael Sonnen (iTunes)

I thought about trying to explain who Chael Sonnen is. Then it occurred to me that if you’ve read this far into this post and you don’t know, it won’t make a difference to you one way or the other. You’re either going to love him, or hate him in a weird way that makes you keep listening. And he’s totally fine with either of those. I think he’s great: insightful, intelligent, self-deprecating but also self-promoting. It’s a strange mix.

Sonnen also bags a wide variety of entertaining guests. They are often MMA fighters, but Chael has varied interests and has had several pro wrestlers on the show, and stand-up comedians.

The valuable thing about his show, apart from the interviews, is this: Chael Sonnen has a very strategically-oriented mind. I get the impression that he’s always thinking a few steps ahead of everyone else, in whatever field of endeavor he’s stepped onto. Sonnen knows how the media works. He knows how to work a crowd. He knows how to promote an event; and how to sell tickets. I really think he’s missed his calling. He should be working as a media advisor for a presidential campaign. He’d be dangerous. And successful.

I wish Christians did that more often: purposely think several moves ahead, strategically. Maybe we can learn something about how to do that from him. That’s how I’ve chosen to justify the time I spend listening, anyway.

Same language warning as with the others. He’s not speaking like he’s on the golf course or anything, but his guests often do.

These are my top three MMA podcast recommendations. And yes, I’ve listened to Joe Rogan’s show, and the new one sponsored by the UFC with Matt Sera and Jim Norton. The former is less and less about MMA from week to week, and the latter is needlessly vulgar, as if someone said, “Hey, it’s okay if we cuss on this show!” And then they decided to do it a whole lot just because they could. Fine, if that’s your thing. It isn’t mine, which is why I am a fan of the free market and the choices it yields to consumers. Let me know if there’s another one out there I should check out.


Gordan Runyan

Gordan is a husband of 31 years, and the father of 3 daughters. He is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari, New Mexico. He and his wife host the Worldview Media Podcast, where they analyze movies and other entertainment through a Covenantal lens. He is the author of the book, Resistance to Tyrants: Romans 13 and the Christian Duty to Oppose Wicked Rulers, and the young adult action/adventure novel, The Groaning Man.

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