Remembering MMA Broadcaster Ryan Bennett
For anyone who has ever received “the call”, that gut-wrenching moment when the voice on the other line informs you that a family member, friend or colleague has passed away, you know that recalling that event can bring back a flood of emotions that make you feel like you are reliving that terrible occurrence again.
Unfortunately those feelings returned to me again this week.
May 31st, 2011, marked the 5-year anniversary of the death of a true MMA pioneer and good friend, broadcaster Ryan Bennett, the co-founder of MMAWeekly.com and the original voice of the WEC on HDNet.
Ryan was truly passionate about mixed martial arts and his love for the sport was infectious. He was one of the first to launch a daily MMA radio show about the same time people were still referring to the sport as cage fighting and Mask, Scrape and Punkass were selling TapOut t-shirts from the back of their cars.
He introduced mainstream sports fans to MMA by doing features on fighters like Chuck Liddell while at the NBC affiliate in San Luis Obispo, California and when he became the play-by-play announcer for World Extreme Cage fighting on HDNet, he brought along a professionalism that was lacking in the coverage of MMA.
Alongside Stephan Quadros and Olympian Jeff Blatnick, the four of us called WEC events from Lemoore, California for the next three years before Zuffa bought the WEC. I vividly remember “The Hitman” taking the time to introduce me to the fighters and answer any dumb questions I had about MMA as I transitioned from covering mainstream sports to MMA. That’s just who Ryan was.
More importantly, Ryan Bennett was a devoted husband to his wife Tonya, loving father of four beautiful children Ashley, Allison, Jada and Braden and a genuine friend. .
The MMA world lost an ambassador that horrible day in May however the world lost an incredible human being.
I received the call from WEC Co-Founder Reed Harris as I exited the HDNet studio in Denver after taping an episode of WEC Exposed. I distinctly remember Reed saying that he had some horrible news followed by a dead silence that seemed to last forever. He then told me Ryan died in a car accident.
As I remember that awful phone call 5-years later, I try not to let feelings of sadness and pain consume me but rather think about how fortunate I am to have known Ryan Bennett and to have called him my friend.
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