NEW YORK — The Underground, mixed martial arts’ longest-running online destination, has partnered with The Arena Group and Sports Illustrated Media Group to showcase its content as part of Sports Illustrated's MMA destination. Beginning Wednesday, The Underground will provide expert analysis, commentary, and world-class coverage of the world of MMA at SI.com/MMA.
Launched in 1998, The Underground has been an integral brand in mixed martial arts from the sport’s earliest days to its current status as a global powerhouse. The website now joins the same publishing platform that powers Sports Illustrated and other leading online sports media destinations, such as The Spun, FanNation, Morning Read, and Athlon Sports.
New Editor-in-chief John Morgan will work with Sports Illustrated to feature content from The Underground on its website and shape original content for an expanded SI.com/mma site. Morgan, a popular mainstay at top-level mixed martial arts events, joins The Underground following a 15-year stint with MMA Junkie, part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.
“The Underground’s legacy traces back to the very earliest days of mixed martial arts. Taking that history and pairing it with an iconic brand like Sports Illustrated is an incredibly unique opportunity,” said Morgan. “This partnership will provide an amazing way for MMA fans to get coverage of the sport’s biggest stars while also honoring a legacy that has been built for more than two decades.”
“In 1998, I founded The Underground, now at MixedMartialArts.com, when mixed martial arts was so new it didn’t have a name,” said Kirik Jenness, President of Mixed Martial Arts LLC. “The sport has since evolved impossibly far beyond what I thought was even remotely possible. To keep up, I have partnered with my favorite journalist in the space, John Morgan, and my favorite brand in sports since I was a high school wrestler, Sports Illustrated. Expect the world’s greatest coverage of the world’s greatest sport.”
“There’s nobody more passionate about MMA than The Underground team. And it shows. We’ve been eager to expand the depth and breadth of our MMA coverage on Sports Illustrated for some time, so we’re thrilled to welcome them to the SI Media Group family,” said Ryan Hunt, Sports Illustrated Co-Editor in Chief. “John Morgan is an absolute force in the industry; under his leadership, big things are to come for both The Underground and SI from this collaboration."
The new partnership launches with coverage of this week’s “UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal” event in Las Vegas and includes a completely redesigned user experience for The Underground at MixedMartialArts.com.
About The Arena Group
The Arena Group creates dynamic, digital destinations that delight consumers with stories and news about the things they love – their favorite sports teams, the inside scoop on personal finance, and the latest on lifestyle essentials. The company's robust media ecosystem brings together consumers, publishers and advertisers while harnessing the authority of trusted brands and the editorial prowess of leading writers and editors. For more on best-in-class capabilities in direct sales and programmatic advertising, data, SEO, social, and operations, visit www.thearenagroup.net.
About Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated (SI) is an unparalleled and influential leader recognized for shaping modern culture and uniting athletes, teams and fans worldwide. SI’s award-winning media enterprise brings powerful storytelling to life across platforms ranging from Emmy-winning video to the monthly print magazine with a 67-year heritage. Get in-depth features, probing profiles, and iconic and beloved photography from the best writers and photojournalists in the game at SI.com.
About The Underground
The UnderGround at mixedmartialarts.com, founded in 1998, quickly became the sport’s first online community, the place for fans and professionals in the nascent sport to interact. Ultimate Athlete magazine named The UG the 8th most important thing in the history of MMA, stating “if not for The Underground … the sport might have died, as PPV buys had sunk to such abysmal levels.” The site has successfully expanded in multiple directions including a popular news page, administering the rankings for multiple top promotions, and assuming the records and suspension keeping role for the Association of Boxing Commissions, the linchpin in effective fighter health and safety regulation.