Letters to the Editor: Stuck Between a Brock and a Hard Place

By Mike Fridley Aug 20, 2014
This much cannot be denied: MMA fans still care about Brock Lesnar. | Photo: Sherdog.com

Always trying to keep its finger to the pulse of mixed martial arts fanatics, Sherdog.com staff made the decision last weekend to alert readers that a familiar face was grabbing the spotlight outside of the cage.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar -- a pro wrestling star years before he took up MMA competition -- captured the World Wrestling Entertainment’s most coveted crown Sunday at WWE’s “SummerSlam” pay-per-view. Knowing that Lesnar remains a polarizing figure in the combat sports world, Sherdog.com staff decided to link to a third-party’s live coverage of the event for those interested and also posted a brief note in our very own blog following the event informing readers of the Minnesotan’s non-sports accomplishment.

Needless to say, the decision did not go over well with some of our readers.

Pro wrestling coverage...seriously? I've been a member here for a little over 8 years, and have to say that I'm really disappointed at this move. Sherdog has been an incredible resource for MMA fans for a long time and I hope it stays that way. While covering boxing and kickboxing is understandable (and appreciated), given the common 'combat sports' umbrella under which they exist with MMA, offering 'play-by-play' and results for what amounts to a scripted soap opera is ridiculous for one of MMA's premier sites. Regardless of Lesnar's participation, which I presume was the impetus for the coverage, I hope this was an experiment that will be shelved; otherwise, I will likely turn to another site as my preferred destination for MMA news and information. This is not the direction that a serious MMA media outlet should be taking, and I really hope the powers-that-be reconsider this embarrassing initiative...
-- Mark

Mike Fridley, managing editor: Thank you so much for writing in, Mark. First of all, allow me to disclose that the decision to mention last Sunday’s pro wrestling event was not taken lightly.

The idea was first breached by new Assistant Editor C.J. Tuttle, who was physically in attendance at Staples Center in Los Angeles for the event as a fan. Tuttle understood that Lesnar is a huge draw for fans of both MMA and pro wrestling, so he pitched the idea of live coverage to myself and Sherdog.com News Editor Tristen Critchfield.

Critchfield, a traditional journalist with roots in the Albuquerque newspaper scene, quickly shot down any thought of publishing coverage of scripted performances alongside legitimate news stories in the Sherdog.com headlines box. Sensing a need to deliver information to our readers, I made the decision to keep our following in the know by providing a link to Evolve Media sister site WrestleZone.com’s minute-by-minute writeup of the happenings in Los Angeles.

Why? For the same reason UFC President Dana White still pursues Lesnar to this day: he moves the needle. Our readers care about the former champ. His FightFinder hub is still one of the most viewed profiles in our database. Fans care, so we care. They want updates, so we provide them.

Sherdog.com staff did its best to separate the content from real athletic competition on the front page. We ourselves did not provide play-by-play of the event, but linked off to a third party for those interested. Following the event, we published a brief note in the Sherdog.com Cheap Seats Blog stating what the former champ was up to.

To the tens of thousands of people who clicked the article and enjoyed reading about a former UFC champion, we are pleased to have delivered relevant information. To anyone offended by our decision, we apologize and vow to always do our best to separate the real from the fake, just like we do news and opinion.

Have a question for the editor regarding journalistic practice on Sherdog.com? Hit up Mike Fridley on Twitter and your question could be addressed in the next mailbag.


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