Why does Sherdog sponsor the IFL?
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.
I've heard Josh Gross state - specifically - that Sherdog no longer sponsors fighters. He correctly noted it simply wasn't ethical. That's also why the opinionated and ferociously hostile forums are on "sherdog.net" instead of the news site, sherdog.com. I agree with Gross that if Sherdog is to be independent and taken seriously, what is and is not the domain of the Sherdog staff should be explicitly separated.
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.
A news source has the right to market and promote itself. After all, they need viewers and readers as much as any news source. And given the niche market of MMA, the options for Sherdog to reach potential readers are limited in this narrow bazaar. But this relationship seems fundamentally at odds with proper ethical relationships between news agency and news subject. If the two are in business together, there needs to be some degree of separation that allows for relatively unbiased coverage or reporting. The Sherdog operation is likely too small for there to be a natural barrier, leaving open the possibility of slanted or, at the very least, tailored coverage.
What else does the IFL do to win Sherdog's favor behind the scenes?