Putting up a good fight

Sports management major making the most out of UFC internship

By Bob Cunningham

To Kaleb Page, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is the embodiment of modern day sports.

Page, a graduating BGSU senior from Wapakoneta, Ohio, got a firsthand look at the 21st century gladiators this spring when he served as a public relations intern at the UFC headquarters in Las Vegas.

The draw for a lot of UFC fans is the finality of the victory: The best fighter for that match is the one left standing. UFC participants are usually practitioners of several fighting disciplines, including wrestling, boxing, karate, jiu-jitsu, muay thai, judo, and so forth. A fighter can win the match by either knocking out his or her opponent or by getting them to tap out after a submission hold. 

“I’m a big sports fan, but I’ve been a fan of mixed martial arts for a long time and, obviously, the UFC puts together the best events,” said Page, a sport management major in the School of Human Movement, Sports and Leisure Studies, and a journalism minor. “It’s one of the truest forms of competition, in my opinion.”

Page was excited to land his dream opportunity. He and his father drove to Las Vegas in early January to get settled in before he started on Jan. 11. The internship was No. 1 on his wish list, and the experience has exceeded all of his expectations.

“What I’ve gotten to do here has been great,” he said. “I can’t imagine being at any other internship because it’s not like they have me only doing copies or stuff like that. I’m really hands-on with these athletes, getting interviews set up and even doing media pitching. I can’t describe how thankful I am for all the talented people I’ve gotten to work with.”

Some of his internship’s highlights include meeting UFC President Dana White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta; working alongside former light heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin; helping at the UFC Athlete Summit, which introduces new athletes to such areas as financial management, media training and drug-testing protocols; and observing athletes being trained in smarter and more efficient ways. Page also was responsible for writing press releases and connecting fighters with the media for interviews. 

Nothing, however, compares to his experience at UFC 196 on March 5 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas when champion Holly Holm, who gained fame for defeating Ronda Rousey in the fall, was upset by Miesha Tate in her first title defense.  

“My heart was pounding after UFC 196 when Holly Holm lost to Miesha Tate,” Page said. “It was her first professional loss and she just lost her belt and I had to interview her afterward. It’s very interesting to pick an athlete’s brain after a competition like that. Obviously, with someone like her who’s coming off such a tough moment, that’s definitely one of the coolest experience I had.

“It was one of those things where Holly was probably winning that fight and more than likely was going to defend her title. That’s the thing about mixed martial arts that’s better than really any sport: you may see what looks like a mismatch on paper but in any given fight you don’t know what’s going to happen. There are so many different variables that could play out, just like that Miesha Tate fight. No one really thought that was coming, but in the fifth round she went for it and she took home the belt.”

Page said his classes at BGSU have been instrumental in preparing him for his internship with UFC as well as his professional career.

“I would say just pushing yourself, not just sitting there and doing the bare minimum,” Page said of his sports management classwork. “If I did the bare minimum at UFC, it wouldn’t go well. Everybody here pushes themselves to do the best that they can every day. I think that just being dedicated in school and really pushing myself kind of gave me the mind-set to do my best here, and I think it’s paid off.”

Page is hopeful he can transition into a full-time position at UFC after his internship, but even if it doesn’t work out, he’s appreciative of his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

“I’ve made it apparent that I’d love to stay, but it’s all about timing and I understand that,” he said. “Maybe someday I’ll get some more experience and find my way back this way again. It’s all about getting experience. Either way, it’s been a phenomenal opportunity.”