Decorated mixed martial arts (MMA) journalist Ariel Helwani addressed his highly controversial “lifetime ban” after he was escorted out of last weekend’s (Sat., June 4, 2016) UFC 199 by UFC officials during an emotional episode of his show “The MMA Hour” today that featured no one but himself and his story.
While Helwani’s candid re-telling of his respected career and his mercurial relationship with the UFC was no doubt a harrowing and tense account, it appears that the promotion is unwilling to relent on their extremely harsh sanctions levied against the award-winning writer and interviewer. TMZ asked UFC President Dana White if Helwani was truly banned, and White said he could, but will never be credentialed:
“He can cover all the events he wants, he just can’t have a credential.”
White was then asked if Helwani could cover July 9’s blockbuster UFC 200 if he bought a ticket, to which White said he could. But apparently the ban on credentials for Helwani is going to last, as he revealed the ban would last “as long as I’m here.”
No official reason has been given for Helwani’s harsh punishment, but the widely-believed report is that he was kicked out and banned for breaking the blockbuster Brock Lesnar news about the former champion’s shocking return at UFC 200, in addition to the official announcement of the finally-booked welterweight rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor in the main event of August 20’s UFC 200.
The consensus from the MMA fan and journalistic community has been one of overwhelming support for Helwani, for which he repeatedly thanked all of his many supporters in this trying time. But with him banned without an apparent end in site, Helwani’s ability to cover the biggest MMA events in the world to the fullest of his ability has obviously been seriously hindered.
With a brutal and now personal grudge driven between MMA’s clear frontrunner and the sport’s best journalist, this mess doesn’t seem to be close to being cleared up anytime soon. Helwani doesn’t seem to be going anyway lightly, however, so perhaps it should be.