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I hosted The MMA Hour for the first time in over three years yesterday. It felt really great to be back in that studio. Heck, it felt really great being back in any studio, considering I hadn’t been in one since March 2020.
Overall, I was really happy with the show, simply because everyone showed up. And that takes a lot for me to say because I’m never happy with anything I do.
That’s always what scares me the most about every show: no-shows. I stress over it so much. I hate when it happens. I’ve banned people from the show in the past for not showing up.
Two big-name guests actually had to reschedule at the last minute (that’s different, of course, since they told me beforehand), so I was a bit bummed about that, but I thought the show had a nice mix of current stars (Israel Adesanya, Dustin Poirier, and Darren Till), as well as legends (Quinton Jackson and Urijah Faber).
Usually, when the Monday show ends, I take a little break from booking interviews, since it can be supremely stressful as highlighted above, and get back on the booking horse Thursday or Friday.
However, times have changed! I now host episodes twice a week — Monday and Wednesday — so it was on to the next one immediately after the show ended.
This has been a particularly busy time because it feels like all my new gigs are starting up in a big way at the same time. I’m doing big things for The MMA Hour, Substack, BT Sport and Spotify all this week, so I’m feeling alive and excited.
Alive. Happy. Excited. I haven’t felt that way in a while. It feels nice.
I know this may sound dramatic, but I really felt a massive weight lifted off my shoulders after the show was over. Like I could breathe again. Like I just be myself again. It was wonderful.
Now, yesterday, on the show I mentioned that I have been seeing a therapist. I’ve never seen one before but I started in February because I was starting to get really anxious about life endeavors, more so than usual. As I mentioned before, I’ve always been anxious but this felt different.
Anyway, part of the reason why I may have been feeling that way is because I kinda knew in my heart that my ESPN “dream job” was likely coming to an end, and I had mixed emotions about that.
Seeing a therapist made me realize that it was OK to be proud of the run I had there and also be OK with moving on. It also made realize that I would be much happier moving on right now. There was a ton of other stuff involved, which I won’t bore you with here, but the point is, it really, really helped to talk about things with a non-family member, who is a professional when it comes to this stuff. I am lucky that I found a great one who really helped me out during a difficult time.
My anxiety has never felt crippling. It never stopped me from leaving my house. I know many, many others deal with that, and it sucks. But it was getting worse, so it was really nice to talk things out.
So, I just felt the need to share that with the audience in hopes of maybe helping someone else who was feeling that same way, and it’s been nice to receive messages since then from people who appreciated me sharing how I felt.
I think I’m gonna do more of that in this next chapter. And this page will be a great place to do so.
(By the way, I still plan on talking to my therapist every week or every second week even though this new chapter in my life has started, and I’m feeling good. It’s just a really great way for me to spend an hour a week.)
It’s also really nice to hear from so many people about how much the show returning meant to them. Wow. I’ve been blown away by the feedback. I guess you all felt the same about this little show as I did, and that really means a lot. I, too, didn’t think it would ever return, so I guess that’s part of the excitement, as well. It’s like an old friend, who you thought was gone forever, re-entering your life. What a feeling.
My favorite messages are the ones where people say they love to listen to the show and escape. Or they love to make dinner and just put it on. With 94749794794 entertainment options available to us these days, it’s always humbling when you find out one person chose you as their escape.
The process of putting together that show is very unique because I get to host but also kinda produce it too. No one has ever booked a guest for that show other than me. Are there times that I wish I could pass that responsibility off to someone else? Sure. It’s the most stressful part of the job, truth be told. But I gotta tell you, there is nothing like the feeling of landing that big guest. I love it. I live for it. So I’m happy to do it, bad moments and all.
It’s just feels really good to have this little thing, with no political strings attached, that I can do and not worry about what anyone else thinks. I am not a smart person. I don’t know a lot about a lot. But I feel like one thing I know is what MMA fans want out of a show. And it’s just so nice to do a show the way I think MMA want it.
I also feel a tad emotional after every show reflecting on the guests. The show is nothing without the fighters. So I feel supremely grateful every time one gives me 20-30 minutes of their day. On this particular show, I was especially thankful for the five who showed up for various reasons:
Poirier: hasn’t done an interview since the McGregor trilogy fight.
Jackson: we’ve had our ups and downs. I never quite know where I stand with Rampage.
Faber: he was my first-ever guest on the show back in 2009, so it just felt right to have him back.
Till: I mean, you just never know if/when/how he will show up.
Adesanya: it was 7:30 a.m. in New Zealand when he did the interview, and I know it takes a lot for him to wake up that early.
So, all in all, a great first day.
You can sub to the pod on Spotify or Apple, as well. Thanks to all who have done so already.
I can’t thank the Vox team enough for making this all happen so quickly for me. It’s really great to be working with them again. They’ve welcomed me back with open arms and have gone above and beyond to make this week a success. I’m feeling the love from everyone — from colleagues to fans — and I hope you/they all feel the love I have right back.
We have five tremendous guests lined up for Wednesday. I’ll reveal those in the AM. I also have another special Spotify exclusive pod coming out tomorrow. Stay tuned for that.
See you tomorrow!
You’re an inspiration, Ariel. Thanks for all you do. Such a great show.
Thank you sharing your story of mental health and the transformative power of therapy! We need more voices to end the stigma. It’s funny- I’m thinking of Chael naming his psychologist as his secret weapon in improving his performance as a fighter.
I’d like to add that as a therapist, I am always delighted to hear from fellow unicorns who share the same atypical intersection of interests: therapy and combat sports. I’m slowly working on an article that explores that intersection.
I’m also really loving the vibe here in the comments! I wonder if a side effect of a subscription service is that it attracts the kinds of fans who actively value and want to support our guy, Ariel. :)