Interview with Kenny Rice of Inside MMA (August 21, 2009)

In addition to my interview with Andrew Simon, I was able to get a few questions to Kenny Rice, who co-hosts Inside MMA with Bas Rutten. No stranger to broadcasting, Rice had a distinguished career before he joined up with Inside MMA. I have had the chance to speak to Rice on a few occasions, most recently at a show in Knoxville where he was providing commentary for the live broadcast on HDNet. He is always a nice guy to talk to, and has a genuine interest in the sport and the people involved.

Check after the jump to hear what Rice had to say on working with Bas, and what to expect after Inside MMA's 100th episode.

Brian Furby: How does working on Inside MMA compare to some of your previous broadcasting experiences?

Kenny Rice: Any sport that's worthy of a passionate fan base such as MMA makes it always interesting, fun and exciting to cover. The study time, the interviews,all pay off when you can relay information to a viewer. I understand the responsibility in acting as a conduit to the viewer.. The inherent pace, unpredictability of this sport naturally keeps me thinking, looking for ideas, new questions, to share with viewers.

Brian Furby: What do you think of working with Bas?

Kenny Rice: Bas is a great friend. I have never worked with anyone in any other sport and become as close. We know each other's families, we talk often and we will always be in touch regardless of where our careers take us. The same for Ron Kruck and our executive producer Darrell Ewalt, we're life long friends. HDNet cultivates that as well, Andrew Simon, Guy Mezger, of course the boss Mark Cuban, are truly good people. You enjoy hanging out with them and I believe that all reflects on Inside MMA. We invite you to our studio home each week.

Brian Furby: At the Kentucky Derby this year, you jokingly identified yourself as Randy Couture to a reporter and attempted to armlock him – is Bas the type of co-host that tries to submit you on the set?

Kenny Rice: The best part about that is showing how Inside MMA has reached a crossover audience, sports fans in general who are learning about and have taken to MMA. The reporter, Lee Cruse, is a friend who watches us and has become a fan, so I went with his playing it up about Couture. When have you ever heard of MMA mentioned on a horse racing show before that? And no, I've covered enough sports to never pretend I had the talent to be a pro athlete, only a pro sportscaster. I have no desire for Bas to show me how a world champ could make me tap out. I enjoy shooting hoops and someday I may ask Mark to let me shoot around after a Mavs practice, but I've refused to let my close friends Rex Chapman and Kenny "Sky" Walker dunk in my face, and they wanted to. I've been called many things, stupid isn't one of them.

Brian Furby: How does interviewing and working with people in the MMA industry compare to some of your previous broadcast subjects?

Kenny Rice: People are basic. We all generally like to talk about ourselves. We usually have similar desires, needs. Every athlete who has made it to a pro level has worked hard, there is almost always a story of what motivated them. The vast majority of the fighters are very cool to deal with. For any aspiring sportscaster, Psych 101 is more valuable than any broadcasting class and the 'who-what-when-where-why-how' in junior high newspapers still apply.

Brian Furby: What’s been your favorite moment on the show so far?

Kenny Rice: Not hedging, but too many fun and interesting times to just pick one, out of 100 hours it's impossible. And if I list favorite guests, I'll unintentionally leave out one, so why try?

Brian Furby: Inside MMA has played host to some of the biggest stars in the MMA world – who would you like to see on the show that has not yet been a guest?

Kenny Rice: I like to hear from athletes of other sports, and entertainers. They surprise with their insight. Herschel Walker was a great guest and knows the sport, trained in it during his football career. The actor Chris Bruno actually has fought MMA and understood the nuances. Jockey Gary Stevens stayed after the show and gave weight cutting tips to the fighters. The wish list guest is Dana White, the de facto commissioner of MMA, a controversial, intriguing, sharp guy who is always welcomed on the show. I would really like to sit down one on one for an interview. He owns the sport, end of story. I might have to revert back to Psych 102 if that interview happens.

Brian Furby: What are you looking forward to with Inside MMA as the show moves past the 100th episode?

Kenny Rice: Show 101. Really it's week to week keeping up with the news, going over the guest list with producers, staying sharp. I want us to continue to inform and entertain, remain an unbiased but caring voice for MMA. It has been an outstanding team effort--and no fight camp has as many assistant coaches as we do---that I look forward to continuing for many more years God willing.

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