Why are Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman on ESPN’s UFC 264 broadcast?


“First Take” fans who tune in to UFC 264 to watch the rubber match between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier on Saturday may see — and hear — a couple familiar faces.

According to a report by MMA Junkie, “First Take” co-hosts Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman will be a part of the UFC 264 broadcast on Saturday, helping call the mega event between rivals McGregor and Poirier as they fight in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It’s clear ESPN, which has exclusive broadcast rights of the entire UFC 264 fight card, is pulling out all the stops for the mega bout, which should be the most lucrative pay-per-view fights of 2021.

And what better duo to call McGregor-Poirier 3, a pairing that has featured plenty of back-and-forth jawing over the years?

MORE: McGregor-Poirier 3 date, time, odds, PPV price and more

However, MMA Junkie reports that Smith and Kellerman will be on separate desks — meaning we won’t see their patented debates on the set. Below is the reported full set of broadcast assignments:

Desk 1 (main)
Michael Eaves (broadcaster); Michael Bisping, Dominick Cruz, Stephen A. Smith (analysts)
Desk 2 (secondary)
Karyn Bryant (broadcaster); Max Kellerman (analyst)

MMA Junkie also reports that Megan Olivi and Lauro Sanko will serve as roving reporters; Jon Anik will be the main broadcaster cageside, where he will be joined by play-by-play alongside color commentators Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier.

Why are Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman on UFC 264 broadcast?

As for why Smith and Kellerman are on the call, it makes sense ESPN would attach two of its most vocal and well-known personalities to the fight. Smith has experience covering boxing for ESPN, and in 2019 became a UFC commentator as ESPN partnered with the organization to become its exclusive broadcast partner. Kellerman also has extensive experience in boxing coverage, signing a multi-year deal in 2018 that included a greatly expanded role in boxing coverage.

While boxing and mixed martial arts don’t offer a direct one-to-one comparison, both fighters have significant striking ability, particularly McGregor, whose fight style is based heavily in boxing. Neither Smith nor Kellerman will be out of their element on Saturday — whether analyzing the fight or arguing about it.

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