UFC 199 was far more than just a drama-filled night for the fighters, as highly respected MMA journalist Ariel Helwani engaged in a bit of drama himself.
Helwani revealed on Twitter shortly following the card’s co-main event that he and his staff had been escorted out of the arena, as well as having their credentials removed and given a life-long ban from all future UFC events.
Monday afternoon Helwani detailed the incident in it’s entirety, live on The MMA Hour:
“Right before the main event, a member of the UFC PR staff told me that ‘Dana White wants to speak to you’. Michael Bisping was about to fight Luke Rockhold, and I had the feeling this wasn’t going to be the most pleasant conversation, and I didn’t feel like anything was good going to come out of it. So I said look ‘I want to watch this fight, I don’t really want to go back and talk to him.'”
Helwani, however, appeared to have no choice but to speak to the UFC President, so he brought along a colleague as he did not feel comfortable going in alone:
“A couple minutes later, a higher ranking PR person came to me in a very serious way and said ‘you must come to the back.’ And I said ‘I’m not going to the back unless my colleague Casey can come with me.’
“I didn’t want to go alone. I didn’t know what was going to happen, I wasn’t going to go into that storm alone. After some back and forth he agreed to let Casey come back with me.
“So we go to the back, it was just a hallway a few steps from the media room, the main event is about to start by the way, and Dana White is there, some other members of his team are there, and he just says to me ‘You’re out, get out of here. You’re done, we don’t want you here anymore, go to Bellator.’
“I said ‘Why?’ He said ‘You’re too negative’. I said ‘How is what I’m doing any different than all of the other great sports journalists out there?’ “
Apparently UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was not too pleased with Helwani’s releasing of the news that former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar would be returning to the Octagon at UFC 200:
“I was talking about a guy who was getting ready to sign a contract to fight, I wasn’t talking about super secretive stuff. I wasn’t talking about the sell. I wasn’t talking about disparaging things. It’s all a little bit embarrassing because I’m not doing any real investigative journalism here. This is fight stuff.”
But then Helwani was kicked out of the event because UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta apparently wanted him out, which lead to some harsh words being thrown around. Read on to the next page to find out Helwani’s side of the story.