Chicago’s Ray Flores Rises In MMA Broadcasting World
What: Ray Flores has become one of the most prominent broadcasters and ring announcers in MMA and boxing.
Why it matters: Flores has set a high standard and serves as an outstanding role model for Latinos in the sports broadcasting word, particularly in combat sports.
The sport of mixed martial arts has grown a lot in the last decade. Top stars have become more recognized outside just its main fandom and the UFC, the sport's leading organization, is covered by most major media outlets, in line with other top leagues.
As a teen growing up in East Chicago, Ind., Ray Flores's love of boxing grew from his family's fandom and frequent gatherings to watch big fights. When a fellow East Chicago native, Miguel Torres, broke into the sweet science (and eventually moved to MMA), the 17-year-old Flores (@SBRFlores) decided to bring his love of combat sports and intrigue with the world of broadcasting together.
"It started at smaller shows, at the Hammond (Ind.) Civic Center, I did a local interview with Miguel, then I started doing commentary for his fights, that was back in 2005," Flores told Portada this week via telephone from his current Chicago home, in between international trips to cover the sport. "I paid my way to cover fights in Las Vegas, Columbus, wherever, got to meet the UFC people, and finally got to cover my first UFC fight in 2011, Miguel vs. Antonio Banuelos in Las Vegas, UFC 126."
Flores [...] was tabbed last July as the in-arena host for the whirlwind, four-day Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor press tour which included stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn and London.
Through this and other experiences, Flores caught the attention of MMA's most influential executives. It's led to work as a ring announcer on the fast-growing Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC, ESPN, Fox, FS1 and NBCN, and last June the now 31-year-old was selected as the lead play-by-play commentator for PBC on FS1.
Boxing: His First Love
Flores has kept to his boxing roots as well, as he was tabbed last July as the in-arena host for the whirlwind, four-day Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor press tour which included stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn, and London.
And while Flores believes boxing is still supreme among the Hispanic fan base, he thinks that with the right marketing MMA can achieve the same level of success in the community.
"I definitely see going ahead more people getting involved," he noted. "The UFC is trying to expand to Mexico, Latin America. 'Goyito' Perez, Cain Velasquez, they're out there educating the fan base about what's going on. With the right marketing, the UFC and Bellator can do that. There's so many boxing fans, they just need a big star to come to the forefront and mobilize fans towards MMA."
Though he downplays his role, Flores is paving the way for Hispanics on the broadcasting front in the sport. His work with mainstream outlets like ESPN Radio, CBS, NBC as well as top Hispanic media such as Galavision and Telefutura have gained him acclaim.
"A lot of other people have paved the way," added Flores, "like [ESPN and ESPN Deportes'] Bernardo Osuna. I'm just trying to carry the torch in combat sports."
Fans can catch Flores' work on beIN Sports on February 8 for Roy Jones Jr. vs. Scott Signon, PBC on Fox on February 17 and on Facebook Boxing on February 24 alongside Paulie Malignaggi.