USA TODAY Launches Online Mixed Martial Arts Community

April 15, 2009

USA Today Announces it:

MCLEAN, Va., April 15 — USA TODAY has launched MMA Fighting Stances, an online mixed martial arts community moderated by Sergio Non. MMA Fighting Stances can be found at mma.usatoday.com.

With the addition of MMA Fighting Stances and the recent launch of the USA TODAY/SB Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, USA TODAY becomes the first national newspaper to add mixed martial arts into its regular sports coverage. As a mainstream media brand, USA TODAY offers another point of entry to the growing legions of MMA fans.

MMA Fighting Stances will give hard-core and casual MMA fans a chance to dissect the most important and interesting fights, news, events, personalities, analyses and anomalies of mixed martial arts. In his role as community moderator, Sergio Non tackles the broader questions about the sport’s evolution and gets to know the athletes through original reporting and regular Q&A interviews. Non will also interact with readers as they share their thoughts, swap stories and speak directly to each other using USATODAY.com’s online community tools.

MMA Fighting Stances is the latest addition to an expanding roster of USA TODAY online communities. Recently created are Open Road, a consumer-oriented site for both auto enthusiasts and everyday Americans who love their cars and trucks; Hotel Check-In, a hotel community targeting business travelers; Game Hunters, with a focus on video games and “interactive awesomeness;” The Oval, dedicated to tracking the Obama administration; and Faith & Reason, a conversation about religion, spirituality and ethics. Several new communities will roll out and re-launch through the spring. All can be seen at blogs.usatoday.com.

While Conde Nast Portfolio reacts:

“If I had to guess, I’d say they are trying to capture a coveted audience for advertisers,” Chris Palmquist, a partner at mixedmartialarts.com, says of the mainstream newspaper’s new blog.

At the same time, Palmquist adds, “They’re trying to keep up with the Joneses” — Yahoo, AOL, and other portals that have the reach to target many niches for their advertisers. If that’s the case, USAToday could be in for a real fight.

“Most of the major sites have inked partnership deals with existing MMA websites to draw fans and build content,” Palmquist said. Being late to the party may leave USAToday struggling on the ground in a submission hold.

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