Megan Olivi said she was “genuinely hurt” over Stephen A. Smith’s recent tweet.
The UFC reporter noticed that Smith tweeted some major praise for the sport and his network’s coverage of it earlier this year. He called several UFC figures, praising them for their work, but left her out.
“Forgive me for bragging, but we’ve got the best @ufc coverage in the world on ESPN+. Ya got @dc_mma, @joerogan & @Jon_Anik cage side. @ChaelSonnen & @bisping providing color. My bro @michaeleaves Hosting post-fight coverage and @bokamotoESPN & @arielhelwani always on scene.” he tweeted.
Olivi, a longtime UFC reporter who works matches for ESPN, revealed that she was genuinely bothered by it.
“That was actually tough for me,” Olivi told reporters before UFC 261. “I don’t love social media in general, but then to play such a big role in terms of pre- and post-fight interviews, like, I’m the one onsite doing them. Then to do all the hits on the broadcast and be a part of this team and literally the only women on the pay-per-view team – there’s no other desk host, there’s no one on the pre- or post-show. It’s literally just me. And I’ve worked to be here. I wasn’t handed this. It’s been a very long journey, as people who have seen me 10 years ago I’m sure can attest to. I’ve done everything the right way to get here, and to not get the acknowledgement as my male colleagues got, I genuinely was so hurt. It was nice to see the MMA community have my back on that.”
However, she does not think it was intentional:
“It’s unfortunately something the women in this room have dealt with before and will have to continue to deal with,” Olivi said. “I don’t think he did it on purpose. I don’t think there was any (bad) intent. I don’t think he was trying to be rude by any means. I just think it didn’t really matter to him. … I don’t know how much he actually watched. I know he’s supposed to be an MMA insider and he does his best, but he has a lot on his plate, as well. I don’t know how much he actually sees. … I don’t want to make it about me and be like, ‘I don’t know how much he noticed me.’ I just don’t think he was genuinely paying attention.
“I also wonder if he was helped with the tweet, if maybe it was just, ‘OK, here are the people on the broadcast.’ Because I don’t know if he knows everyone on the broadcast, in general. So, it’s difficult to be overlooked and not take it personally. I’ve tried not to, and I’ve tried to use it as a moment – I don’t want to say a learning moment – but for me to just realize you go on whether people notice you or not. I think what I do is important, especially when I can tell the stories of these athletes.”