Bruce Connal, One of ESPN’s First Producers and Producer of UFC PPV Events, Dead at 61
Bruce Connal, one of the first producers at ESPN in 1979 and the producer of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-views for more than two decades, died on March 1 at the age of 61 following a brief illness. “Bruce came to ESPN from NBC Sports in October 1979, just one month after ESPN launched, following in the footsteps of his father, Scotty,” said George Bodenheimer, ESPN, acting chairman, in an internal memo. “In ESPN’s formative years and into the 1990s, few producers worked on more of the network’s biggest events than Bruce.”
His ESPN career began most notably with producing tape-delayed college football games with Jim Simpson, the award-winning play-by-play commentator, who left NBC Sports and gave ESPN instant credibility.
His father, Allen Bruce “Scotty” Connal had joined ESPN prior to its launch and was instrumental in not only launching the network, but also in providing seasoned leadership in establishing foundational principles for future success.
Bruce’s influence was seen on the first 10 years of College World Series coverage, the first four years of Sunday Night Baseball, NHL coverage, and more, at ESPN.
Jon Anik, UFC commentator, says the UFC community is absolutely devastated.
“Bruce was the lead producer for all of the UFC PPVs and big shows,” he says. “He was the anchor, the kingpin, and the man most of us took our cues from. This is just an unfathomable personal and professional loss for our tight-knit production team.”
Born in Nyack, NY to Mathilde Connal and the late Allen Bruce Connal, Connal was raised in Old Greenwich, CT. Bruce established his own company, Legend Productions, which broadcast an array of live events, from the Running of the Bulls, in Pamplona Spain, to the North American Scrabble Championship, and, of special interest to him, the Pillsbury Bake Off.
Connal is survived by his mother, his wife Karen and children Tyler, of Philadelphia, and Carly and Trevor, of New York City. Funeral services will be held March 9 at 1pm at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Trinity Academy School at trinityday.org.