In a way, Megan Olivi has an easy work weekend. Just one day on camera asking questions and reporting during a live sporting event.
In another way, Olivi has the busiest occupational weekend of her calendar year.
Olivi, a host and reporter for the UFC, will work as a sideline reporter for the Giants-Texans game in Houston on Fox this Sunday. She is also scheduled to work the Browns at Raiders game in Week 4.
“In terms of actual assignments, yes, it’s lighter, but because I have yet to be on the sidelines as the reporter for an NFL game, I am overpreparing,” Olivi said. “For me, in my first one, it’s just massive amounts of homework. I’m probably doing four to five hours of research, then reading articles and writing my notes and studying my notes. I think the preparation is bigger, even though I do way more in terms of on-camera assignments with the UFC."
An experienced on-air talent, Olivi has developed a rapport with the UFC fighters she has covered in her five years with the promotion. Perhaps more importantly, she has quite the extensive reservoir of knowledge about each fighter, their training partners, their teams, their storylines, their fight histories and everything else needed to conduct several dozen interviews throughout the course of a typical UFC fight week. It makes for a handy database of information to reference as needed.
Her football files are a bit smaller in size. Yes, she grew up watching the Giants with her family in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. And yes, she began studying a couple of weeks ago when Fox offered her the opportunity to cover NFL games, a gig she said her boss, UFC president Dana White, fully supported.
But the process remains the same, whether the subjects wear four-ounce gloves or shoulder pads.
“Making sure you give as much attention as you can to each person," Olivi said. "And those big stars, there's going to be more information available on them. I'll know more about Odell Beckham Jr. than I will maybe a certain person that’s going to stay on the sidelines for the Giants. In terms of preparation and what I do, it’s very similar.”
As popular as the UFC has grown over the years, it's not football. It's not the ratings powerhouse that the NFL is. This is a high-profile opportunity for Olivi.
"If you say you do NFL games, you're looked at in a different light even though it might be the same type of gig as doing backstage at a UFC event or whatever it may be," Olivi said. "It’s just looked at differently by other people, and to be able to prove that we are just as talented as everybody else was really important to me.”
Olivi credited her work during the heavily promoted Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor boxing match in the summer of 2017 as being a catalyst for this NFL opportunity with Fox.
“The McGregor-Mayweather fight kind of gave everybody a new insight into my abilities," Olivi said. "Every single thing I did was live for Fox, and it came out of a situation where we weren’t running the shows, so you're just kind of trying to do the best you can with what you have. I think I really proved to a lot of people at that network what my true capabilities are. And it’s not just, 'Oh she knows UFC well.' It’s that, 'Oh, she's a strong talent in general.'"
Olivi said she is comforted by knowing that many of the players on the field Sunday understand her more natural habitat of covering mixed martial arts. Giants receiver Beckham Jr. has been to a number of UFC events, including McGregor's fight at Madison Square Garden in 2016.
Still, there are some nerves heading into Sunday afternoon, which is no different from of her Saturday nights when she's doing post-fight interviews for the UFC.
"It reminds me to think and breathe," Olivi said. "I think it would be a little strange to not be nervous. It's a big platform. It's a team that all of my friends and family watch on a weekly basis. It’s new. I have the blessing of my bosses at UFC who are going to be watching, proudly, so I think if I was nonchalant about it, I wouldn’t perform as well.”