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ESPN UFC reporter Megan Olivi felt “genuinely hurt” after colleague Stephen A. Smith failed to include her in a tweet celebrating the network’s all-male team that covers the UFC.
Smith took to Twitter in late March to “brag” about ESPN’s UFC team, writing, “Forgive me for bragging, but we’ve got the best @ufc coverage in the world on ESPN+.”
The “First Take” host went on to tag ESPN employees, former UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion-turned commentator Daniel Cormier and MMA color commentator Joe Rogan, among others.
At the time, Olivi replied to Smith’s tweet with: “Ummm hey there – you’re forgetting someone,” along with a smiling emoji. Smith did not reply publicly.
On Friday, April 23, Olivi spoke about Smith’s lack of acknowledgment for her work as the only woman on ESPN’s UFC pay-per-view team.
“That was actually tough for me,” she said during a Q&A after UFC 261 when a reporter mentioned that UFC fans appreciated her “clap-back” at Smith.
“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 on-site 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 not a female 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.”
Olivi added, “It’s unfortunately something the women in this room have dealt with before and will have to continue to deal with.”
As for Smith’s intention behind the tweet, Olivi said she doesn’t think he excluded her on purpose.
“I don’t think there was any malintent, I don’t think he was trying to be rude by any means — I just think it didn’t really didn’t matter to him.”
Two days after Olivi’s comments, Smith included her in a separate tweet giving “props once again” to ESPN’s UFC team.
Olivi’s issue with Smith comes just a few weeks after Smith issued a public apology on “First Take” for blasting his ESPN colleagues on-air over the network’s NBA Best 25 under 25 list.
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