Stephie “Crooklyn” Haynes discusses her career, UFC Reebok deal and click bait journalism

61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565One of the most respected names in the MMA media industry, Stephie “Crooklyn” Haynes has been covering the sport for over 10-years and is currently a staff writer for and a co-host on “The Three Amigos” Podcast. “Crooklyn” spoke to MMAOddsBreaker on Episode 121 of “The Parting Shot Podcast” and discussed a variety of topics.   How long she’s been a MMA fan  “I won’t bullshit and say that I’ve been a fan since UFC 1, because I have not. I have followed since the late 90’s, early 2000’s and a very basic following. If somebody had it on I’d catch it and everything. I became more of a hardcore fan around 2003-2004 and I started covering the sport in 2005.”   First gig in the MMA industry  “Late summer of 2005 and it was a tiny little show called “MMA Discussions.”  “Goze” Garcia at MMA Junkie used to do the show too.  We actually all did one or two shows together and he made his exit, I came in. I stayed with them for a couple of months and then Pro Elite formed, Elite XC and all of that. I became Cageside live because I became the official show for Pro Elite.   MMA media scene in 2005  “You had the godfather, Eddie Goldman. He’s covered the sport since the mid to late 90’s. He started out with boxing, he still does boxing. But was covering the hard-core NHB events, the little stuff that was in Brazil, I mean he literally covered everything. Then you had Loretta Hunt [at] and the guys at MMA Weekly and there was a pre-Damon Martin era. It was Jeff Cain and a guy named Ryan Bennett, god rest his soul, he died in 2006. But Jeff and Ryan had a show and then Damon Martin came in late 2005-2006. They were awesome, I used to sit in their chatrooms – when chatrooms were all the rage back then – and interact with a lot of people. There was also the Sherdog shows. TJ De Santis he’s been around a long time. When Josh Gross was over there, Loretta was over there, everybody over at Sherdog. They had a show “Beyond the Mat” or something like that. It was before “Beatdown After The Bell” and all the shows that they have now. Their show was out, and then I came out with “Cageside Live.” Then about 5 months later “Tagg Radio” came out and that was the precursor to what MMA Junkie Radio is now. We were all out around the same time and hitting it big, mid to late 2006-2007.”   Why she’s been one of the most respected names in the industry  “Because one thing everyone knows if you tell me something and you tell it to me in confidence it never leaves my mouth for any reason. So I’ve made sure that’s the reputation that I’ve established. I’m also a person that, if I say what’s on my mind I mean it. Occasionally I say thing I shouldn’t say, I either apologize or take it down, or both. So you always know what you’re getting. As far as longevity you have to have to evolve along with everything else. You can’t do the same thing over and over [again]. I listened to my first shows when I started out with Cageside Live and even after Tapout picked us up and we became “Tapout Radio”.  I cringe because those early shows were terrible. You have to evolve; you have to learn as you. You have to do everything consciously to get better. You have to pay attention to what other people are doing too. Iron sharpens iron.”   First MMA interview  “The very first guy was Cung Le. It was kind of cool because he was my first interview and I was his first interview. He had never been interviewed before me. After that it was [Phil] Baroni, but I kind of had an unfair advantage because we had been friends many years before that because we’re basically from the same area.”   Favourite MMA interview  “Always the [Joe} Rogans ones. All the ones with Anthony Bourdain, especially the very last one I did with him. I have a lot that I like. Over the past few years I’ve been with Bloody Elbow I feel like I’ve really stepped up my game. The guys over there have helped sharpen my game as well. Many props to all my collogues at Bloody Elbow. I think we all as a team make each other better.”   Click bait journalism  “You have to look at it like this. So many of us don’t have contracts with the UFC buying big sponsorships packages that rhyme with “MMA Hunkie”. There’s a lot of us don’t have that kind of clout. When you depend on clicks to make your dollars to keep your site going, unfortunately that’s part of the game. Do I like it? I could take it or leave. I’m a girl, regardless of how professional I can be, or unprofessional I can be etc. I am still a girl. I still enjoy a good amount of gossip and I think a lot of you guys do too. I like debate as well. I like to see people going at it in the comments because I feel like I learn a little bit. I learn what not to do, a lot of these fans are educated especially the ones on the forums and in the comments on MMA articles and stuff across all of the sites. You can learn a good bit just from paying attention to the comments. I just think with the boom of social media and all eyes on everything that every athlete does, says, pictures from Instagram. Pictures and video of everything they can get their hands on. I think it’s just the trend not just with MMA media, but across the board. It’s always going to be that way from this point forward.”   Thoughts on Frankie Perez and Jordan Mein retiring at a young age  “It all comes downs to money. You have these guys that are putting their bodies through extraordinary paces, really putting some undue stress on their physiques. Then you have two, maybe three fights a year. If you’re on that end of the totem pole, you’re making 10-12k a fight, 10-12k to win, then 2k from Reebok. When you don’t have name value like the upper echelon, where sponsors are willing to give you money outside of the octagon. Then your options are very limited within the sport. These guys are both young enough to A) go back to college or B) get some sort of a job outside the sport that makes them the kind of money that they probably need to sustain a normal family life.” You can follow Stephie on Twitter @CrooklynMMA and you can check out her weekly show “The Three Amigos Podcast” here. You can also listen to the full audio version of this interview below (20 mins in)

Written by James Lynch

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