Former UFC heavyweight fighter Brendan Schaub and former MadTV cast member Bryan Callen are the hosts of the most popular MMA podcast in the world, The Fighter and the Kid. On paper, it seems like an odd couple mishmash of personalities, but a big part of the success of the show comes from the fact that Schaub isn’t your typical MMA fighter or talking head.
When I sat down with the co-hosts at FOX Sports in Los Angeles, it was easy to see their friendship, rapport and banter came from being truly like-minded. Schaub was an avid 1990s SNL viewer — at the same time Callen was on the competing late-night sketch comedy show — and had pipe dreams of going into comedy when he was younger.
Now the podcast has reached another medium: The Fighter and the Kid 3D, a webseries which hit No. 1 on the iTunes charts when it was released. It’s an unorthodox show, which doesn’t do any hand-holding narratively, has episodes of drastically variable lengths and is genuinely funny in a way that few athlete-driven shows manage to be. (Just take a look at Michael Strahan struggling through hosting The $100,000 Pyramid, if you don’t believe me.)
The two men, who originally met on the set of The Ultimate Fighter when Schaub was a contestant, began collaborating when Schaub moved to California and lived a mile away from Callen. Schaub didn’t know anyone in town, so he started hanging out with Callen and his friends.
“I noticed he was into fashion, and he loved to laugh and he had a really good sense of humor,” says Callen. “I was with a friend of mine who was with a comedian, and [Brendan] was telling a story, and [my friend] said, ‘You’re a really good storyteller.’ And he didn’t hear it. He was in the middle of his story. But this is a comedian, who went, ‘You’re a really good storyteller.’ And I remember going, ‘Yeah, he is a really good storyteller,’ because he was making all these comedians laugh.