Featured Columnist of the Month: McKinley Noble, MMA writer
McKinley Noble still had shards of glass in his head and a horribly bum knee. His doctors had instructed him to stay in bed. It didn’t stop him from pumping out stories during UFC 154.
One night prior, Noble and his girlfriend were headed to see his family in Turlock, Calif., when they were involved in a nasty three-car wreck in Livermore, a suburb of San Francisco.
So it wasn’t only his Willis Reed-like publishing performance during UFC 154 that earned Noble Bleacher Report’s Featured Columnist of the Month for November honors. But his willingness to neglect his pain killers, ignore the pain and contribute certainly turned plenty of heads.
In truth, since Noble joined the Featured Columnist ranks just six weeks ago, he’s done nothing but impress. His working through injury just confirmed what Deputy MMA Editor Brian Oswald already knew.
“His combination of hard work, quality writing and a humble attitude are exactly what an editor looks for in a future star,” Oswald said.
Noble, who works at a design firm in San Francisco by day and graduated from San Francisco State with a journalism degree in 2009, became interested in MMA through fairly normal means, but fully embraced it through somewhat unorthodox ones.
He first got into MMA when he stumbled upon on a few fights on TV, then he got hooked on the first season of “Ultimate Fighter,” because it was on after “Monday Night Raw,” and he gradually started looking up videos of fights online.
When he purchased the video game UFC Undisputed 2009, a casual hobby turned into a passion.
“When I got into the video games, that’s when I really started to understand it and learn the details of it,” Noble said. “That’s how I learned about the grappling, all the different holds and the standups … I spent hours on the game and that’s where the technical knowledge came from. It all seems very odd now.”
It shouldn’t seem that odd.
Like most males spending their youths in the ’90s, his days were dominated by playing arcade-style fight classics like Street Fighter II and Tekken. That love carried on to contributing to video-game websites 1UP, Bitmob and GamePro. Noble traveled to Tokyo to interview the creators of Pokemon for a six-page spread in GamePro Magazine.
He later interned for MacWorld and PC World before focusing on finishing up his degree. But it was Noble’s lifelong fondness for gaming that led him to separate MMA from his other sporting interests, the NBA and professional wrestling.
“At the core, I really just like to watch fights,” Noble said. “When I was growing up, I’d always hope that my friends would want to watch fights on TV or play fighting video games.
“For me, MMA was like watching Street Fighter or Tekken, but in real life. That was really the appeal of watching the sport to me.”
Noble came to Bleacher Report when he was irate with the mundane entertainment value of UFC 112 in April 2010. He felt that Anderson Silva should have been stripped of the title and wanted to be heard somewhere other than a message board. Read his piece on the subject here. With the engagement from readers he received from that first article, he was hooked.
Although only able to publish sporadically for the next two-plus years, he’s published 151 articles and eclipsed 500,000 reads since getting back involved at B/R.
His advice for fellow up-and-coming scribes? Your name—and your real one, at that.
“Make sure wherever you go, people know your name,” he said. “One of the reasons I sort of got to where I am now, is if you Google my name, the top 10 results are all me using my real name, either on B/R, MMAmania or wherever.
“People want to know your real name, who you are, not just a random screen name,” he continued. “It helps people recognize you and know that you never stopped trying to write and put your thoughts and your name out there. That’s what’s great about it.”
* * *
* * *
Sean Swaby is Bleacher Report’s Featured Columnist Coordinator.