Pick Factor MMA Spotlight Espn’s MMA Analyst Jesse Finney
A while back I got a chance to speak with ESPN MMA Analyst Jesse Finney. We discussed the current state of mixed martial arts, fitness, UFC, his ESPN radio show and of course his gyms. Jesse has been recently named St. Louis Riverfront Times MMA Fighter of the Year due to a robbery he stopped at a local grocery store. A coach, father, and businessman is the life of Jesse Finney since he retired from fighting so I would like to thank him once again for his time.
M: So Have you fought any crimes lately? Saved anyone?
JF: Thats a crazy story. No Not lately. Everythings good man.
M:How are your kids doing? What all do you do outside of ESPN?
JF: My son is 6 months now and my daughter is 2.5 years old. I run Finney's MMA, Hit Squad, Alln1 Fitness and Shamrock FC. I am also partners in Elite MMA Management and Blue Corner in KC. I also manage Bobby Voelker.
M: With what you guys do at Hit Squad what kind of fighters are you seeing coming through the doors now? Also how different is it now compared to when you were still fighting?
JF: Everythings a lot different. Everything from training methods to the gyms. Like now there is almost like an amatuer practice and pro practice becasue mma has gotten so big. Then also everybody is better. From the days when I started which was probably 12 years ago as a kick boxer that came into mixed martial arts like the wrestlers who came into mixed martial arts. Now days guys like Roy Mcdonald start training mix martial arts when they are 12 years old its scary. The kids now are bigger and faster and stronger and they are well versed there is no weakness anymore with these guys. Now its just such good athletes, the training methods are just so much better. A lot of guys get bitter and jealous about that but I’m happy for the kids.
M: What do you mean they get bitter?
JF: A lot of guys that are at the end of their games are like. I wish all that was available to me when I was younger. I wish I had that, I wish I had that. I’m like no man you should be happy as hell for these kids. Its only gonna help everything in the long run.
M: Are the young kids coming in now hungrier?
JF: These guys walk in saying I want to fight in the UFC. Right now it’s great for them because the UFC is looking for the next superstar everyday. They love GSP but they are looking for the next GSP. Its just great because like it used to be these kids were coming in from a karate school but now they are starting mixed martial arts when they are 8 years old. At 8 years old they are doing, boxing, wrestling, and jiu jitsu. Our biggest program is our youth mma program. That says something. We got 2500 students between the two gyms.
M: Man thats crazy!
JF: So its chaos and our biggest program is our youth mma. Its cool because the kids don’t get burnt out with mma as fast. Its just wrestling, Its not just karate, they are not just doing a kick boxing class, they are doing it all. You name it they are doing it.
M: When the older adults come in what are they trying to achieve?
JF: Most of them come in for fitness. I would say about 95 percent of them come in for fitness. some come with aspiration to be a fighter. So we have to push them. If they are going to be in a cage and represent us then we have to get them ready to fight. Now thats a lot of time and dedication but I always say to people if this is the goal you want, you want to be able to step in a cage and pursue that type of life that's incredible so go for it. I’m going to be realistic with you. I’ve only told two people in fifteen years of doing this to quit their jobs. So I really don’t want people to think they can come in their late 20’s and make a career out of this. You are not going to make any money. If you want to make some money, as long as you know what you are getting into, just don’t do it. When Bobby Voelker is fighting Robbie Lawler, then taking on James Head next month he's making the same amount each time because that’s his choice. I do think fighters should be paid more money but stop bitching about it, you made that choice. I work at ESPN I don’t make as much money as people think I do. I choose to accept that job knowing what the pay was.
M: So speaking of ESPN what's going on with the show it’s strictly podcast now right?
JF: We were so inconsistent because of the SLU basketball schedule. They were doing so well so they would override us. So we kept getting bumped which was okay because the show was pre recorded. Then they said we have been actually wanting to do this web segment where it goes on the web and now we do the show as normal but we have to dress nice. They video edit then put it online. They are going to start going that way with a lot of their shows and it will also build content for the website long term.
M: How’s the response been so far?
JF: Good real good. They keep wanting me to do more and more but I can’t commit to more. Its not enough time in the day. Realistically I get up at 5:30 every day take care of the kids, then the gyms and then they are wanting me to do more shows but I just can’t do it.
M: With the show turning into a web segment what kind of fan interaction is there?
JF: Google voicemails, lots of twitter, emails. We get a lot of emails. We have an email segment on the show now. Its a lot easier to go that way and thats what the fans what to hear. I get asked all the time hey man what happen to the show. And the show was doing great but thats just the nature of it. A lot was going on. It was a tough time slot. They initially wanted to try it for sixth months but it did so well now they don’t want to get rid of it. So they decided to go with the web segments which sucks for us because we can’t just wear what we want but thats how it is.
M: Is the St. Louis mma fan pretty knowledgeable about the sport?
JF: St. Louis fans are pretty knowledgeable. They know the sport really well. The only problem I see with the St. Louis mma fan is there is so much jealousy. These people don’t even know eachother then for some reason they become enemies. Its like hey why don't you go make your own decisions on who not to like, and go watch this promotion or that promotion instead of believing what your own instructor says. I tell people that all the time. Overall though the St. Louis fans do really well. Its just such a closed minded community. I encourage our fans to go watch other shows. I also think they will appreciate what we do with Shamrock a little more.
M: We live in this day and age of crossfit.
JF: I love it.
M: How do you think a mma workout compares to crossfit?
JF: Well I like crossfit and I think it’s super hard but if you are going to do crossfit you have to make sure you are doing it properly or you will get hurt. We get a lot of crossfit athletes here, but the hardest workout I have done to this day is a hardcore kickboxing workout including with it a hardcore wrestling workout. If you can incorporate both of those things into one, man its the hardest workout there is. I also think you are going to burn more calories. You can do both those workouts without any contact and that what we do in the classes.
M: As a person in your position how have you embraced social media?
JF: Social media for me as a business owner can help you and can hurt you. You can tweet the wrong things. I try and keep my personal life 100% separate and private. Its hard to with my personal Facebook page but even still i try to keep most of that stuff private. But as far as business and everything else I think it’s great. I also think you can learn a lot about a business through social media. We had to hire a social media manager. If we don’t then we stay behind the times, if we stay behind we might as well quit now.
M: What if you were still fighting? Can you imagine how you would handle social media as a fighter?
JF: It’s tough. There are so many critics out there. I’m like what makes you an expert? Just because I follow mixed martial arts and train a bunch of guys it doesn't make me an expert. look at my stats and who i’m picking. That’s what makes me an expert. Social media is what you want to make of it.
M: Last thing tell me when are your upcoming Shamrock FC events?
JF: Next shows are Oct 12, Nov 1st in KC and December 7th at River City. Then back at it in Jan at Lumiere.
I want to thanks Jesse once again for his time and head over to http://www.101sports.com/shows/the-hit-squad/ for episodes of his mma web show “The Hit Sqaud.”. Shamrock FC presents Relentless live from The Lumiere Theater at the Lumiere Casino in St. Louis, Mo on October 12th. For more information head over to http://shamrockfightingchampionships.com/