As MMA’s most prominent, well-recognized, and now, controversial journalist, MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani found himself at the center of a controversy that overshadowed even many of the sport’s biggest headlines when he was unceremoniously escorted out of UFC 199 in Inglewood, California, earlier this month (June 4, 2016).
The strange scenario erupted from Helwani’s breaking of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar’s pending return at July’s UFC 200, a blockbuster announcement that was supposed to serve as a shocking surprise during a promo aired during UFC 199.
But Helwani had broken the story hours earlier, so the UFC 200 promo that featured Lesnar at the tail end was merely confirmation of Helwani’s earlier announcement, which had by that time gone viral all over the web. White and his team of employees had Helwani, his photographer Esther Lin, and his videographer E. Casey Leydon kicked out of the event, with security even walking them to their car to make sure they left.
While there were many schools of thought on the huge unfolding, the most common one was that White had simply thrown a fit on a reporter who had scooped him before his big reveal, and the online community lashed out in support of Helwani. Realizing this, the UFC soon granted Helwani his credentials again, although White has since said they are still not on good terms.