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No conflicts should mean no conflicts

Last year Josh Gross, the editor of sherdog.com, called me and asked me to write an article about the UFC’s lawsuit against the IFL. He also asked me, in a very serious tone, whether I still managed any fighters. I told him I did not, and had not for a number of years. Josh clearly wanted to be sure I had no conflict of interest before I wrote again for the site.

Apparently, I should have asked Josh whether he and sherdog.com had any conflicts of interest, since Luke Thomas from bloodyknuckle.com noticed something last night:

I watched last night’s Battleground (a much-improved program) only to realize Sherdog.com, an ostensibly independent news source for all things MMA, pays money to one particular MMA organization advertising money. In other words, Sherdog is a client of the IFL.

How is this accomplished? Easily: the Sherdog logo and website URL are printed in one corner of the ring’s canvas. Alongside Sherdog’s logo are the logos for Headblade and Buffalo Wild Wings; not exactly news sources the last time I checked.

. . .

So then how can they justify their relationship with the IFL? I don’t know the terms of their deal and I can’t say up front I’ve noticed any biased reporting by Sherdog on all things IFL. Then again, we also haven’t seen a great number of pieces highly critical of the IFL, something that is common from other news sources or blogs.

If sherdog.com is going to present itself as a serious news source and grill its writers about potential conflicts of interest, the least it could do is avoid those conflicts itself.

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