A response to SCC President Neil Forester's twitter meltdown over 'The MMA Diaries'

Karim Zidan

Substance Cage Combat President Neil Forester did not take kindly to my latest entry in 'The MMA Diaries.' I decided to reciprocate with my own public response here on BE.

When I started my ' MMA Diaries' series, I did so because I wanted to approach MMA coverage from a rarely-used perspective. It was never intended to be a series targeting the negative aspects of the sport, but simply one reporter's perspective from the start to the end. A fellow journalist referred to my approach as 'fly-on-the-wall' journalism, and I thought that was an accurate way to describe it. I sit back silently and take in my surroundings to offer up noteworthy entries.

Sadly, it seems that there will always be people who do not appreciate my approach. Following my most recent entry, which documented my evening at a regional show in Toronto, the President of the promotion I visited decided to take it upon himself to attack me for my apparently "biased," "terrible," and "misleading" piece.

While I initially had no intention of responding to the blatant bashing, I was later accused of "sneaking in"  to the event and of being an unprofessional "hack" with "zero relevancy," which has now motivated me to provide a response. Since Mr. Forester chose to offer his grievances publicly on twitter instead of approaching me in private, allow me the courtesy of reciprocating with a response in exactly the same manner.

I have no issues with your personal feelings towards my article. That is far from relevant. However, I do not see how it is my job to "help others" or even consider the long-term plans of your promotion. I was not writing a review of the fight card, but a diary entry of the notable moments that took place during the event, whether inside the cage or out. Why would it be my responsibility to paint a positive picture of the event when I saw it differently?

Again, I am a reporter, credentialed by YOUR promotion to cover the event for bloodyelbow.com. This is easily provable, yet you claim I snuck into your event? I was not aware media members needed to pay cover to get decent seating to help report on your fight card. Thank you for clarifying.

I assure you that I researched all of the topics that I covered in the article. Please direct me to the exact misquote or incorrect statement in the article. I will gladly fix any errors to better represent the piece.

This may be my personal favourite tweet from you Mr. Forester. Do you really believe that Todd Stoute's background is irrelevant on fight night? The man was convicted for kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and then dumping a 17-year-old girl in a dumpster. You take issue with the fact that I mentioned that in my article?

Whether or not you chose to promote a convicted rapist is your decision entirely, but you aren't in any position to tell me how to go about my job or what topics I chose to report on. I, and many others fans and pundits alike, consider a convicted rapist fighting on the main card something worth noting. If you feel his actions are excusable, that is your decision, but it will not impact my work.

Clearly your PR team must have thought I was worth credentialing for the event. I am a certified journalist with a degree from the University of Toronto, and work full-time covering MMA and tennis. Considering I have attended larger, and dare I say more credible, events than your own in both these sports, I would believe I am at the very least eligible for media credentials at a regional MMA show clamouring for attention.

Your staff scratched my name off the list just like they did several other media members at the exact same time. You cannot seriously be suggesting that I actually needed to sneak in to this event to cover it for BE? I have emails from your PR person Tara Muldoon, who can verify that I was credentialed to attend the event. I do not appreciate the notion that I would need to sneak in to do my job.

I have no intention of spinning my work to favour your promotion simply for the benefit of MMA in the region. The sport's growth and development in Ontario is not based on your success or failure, and I refuse to sacrifice my journalistic integrity to offer a fake opinion on a night of fights that I truly considered to have been "unfortunate."

Instead of offering a legitimate list of grievances as to why you disliked my work, you chose to attack me as a journalist and a human being. While I had no intention of responding to you on twitter, I felt that I needed to express my side of the story, and why I take issue with your claims that I was attacking your company.

Do I really need to tackle this one?

In the future, kindly consider a more delicate approach to handling such matters.

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