Ariel Helwani given lifetime ban by UFC

June 5, 2016

MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani was escorted out of UFC 199 prior to its conclusion according to multiple reports including the host of the MMA Hour.  In addition, Esther Lin and Casey Leydon of MMA Fighting were required to leave the event.

MMA Fighting has issued a statement:

MMA Fighting and SB Nation fully support Ariel, Casey, Esther and the entire MMA Fighting staff. And we appreciate the support we have received from the MMA Fighting audience and community.

The UFC has not been in contact with us since revoking the credentials of Ariel, Esther and Casey. But we will keep you, our audience, informed of the situation.

Ariel will address what occurred at UFC 199 on tomorrow’s MMA Hour. The show begins at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT

Essentially the statement amounts to an advertisement for the MMA Hour.

Helwani indicated that he was told that he was banned for life from the UFC.

Payout Perspective:

The move by the UFC amounts to a PR issue with dealing with the media.  Helwani has scooped the UFC of its breaking news of fight announcements on its FS1 show, UFC Tonight, since leaving the show.  The reason for his dismissal on Saturday night was the reporting of Brock Lesnar’s return prior to the UFC’s announcement.  Jumping on the news appeared to be the last straw for the UFC.

But the question is why Helwani was the scapegoat for the news leak.  Shouldn’t the UFC be irate over the sources that fed Helwani the news?  Likely, Helwani was the easiest target.  Moreover, he has become a popular media figure in MMA.  Perhaps a little too big.  Helwani still has the contacts within the industry to obtain stories and unless the UFC can control his contacts, then he will still be a major MMA media figure.

Frankly, whether you notice it or not, the control of the news by an organization is not uncommon.  The tenuous relationship between public relations and journalism was exemplified by this episode.  While we may believe the UFC doesn’t need the media, it actually does.  If you watched the PPV on Saturday, the UFC 200 promo for Jones-Cormier included interviews with 3 reporters (Kevin Iole, Case Keefer and John Morgan).  The inclusion reflects the fact the UFC needs the media to legitimize fights.

Will the UFC suffer for what it has done? Of course not.  If you look at bigger leagues and companies, the muting of news occurs all of the time.  Helwani was not the chosen person to break the Lesnar story and the UFC decided to make an example out of him.  It does appear that more bigger name, mainstream journalists are picking up on this issue.  Will the UFC do anything to address the matter or will they just let it air out?  The Stitch Duran situation was prickly but the UFC got through it fine. We shall see.

11 Responses to “Ariel Helwani given lifetime ban by UFC”

  1. mmaguru on June 6th, 2016 6:25 AM

    UFC has the right to remove him as they are a promotional company not a real sporting league. Ariel did what was beneficial for him and the company he works for. UFC did what they think is right.

    For those who actually believe the UFC to be a legitimate sporting organization akin to the NFL or NHL etc, it’s time to move on from that notion. The fact that they are bringing Brock back in for a one of fight to try to save UFC 200 is a testament to that – the fight makes absolutely no sporting sense outside of bringing more eyeballs to the event and more money.

    Watch if you want, don’t if you don’t want. But please don’t try to make this some kind of moral high ground issue. UFC is not a sport. MMA is. They can do as they wish and they have done so in this case as they have done in many other cases in the past with fighter and media alike.

    Ariel can continue to cover the sport as legitimate as he wishes, and probably will be given credentials again in the near the future. He is simply being punished by Zuffa for leaking a story about a pro wrestler coming back to fight in a big event with little meaning, and it is up to him how he reacts to this.

  2. BrainSmasher on June 6th, 2016 9:29 AM

    I think he deserves it. He just sells out anyobe to further himself. He uses the UFC one minute then sells them out the next. He is not TMZ. “Breaking” rumors is not news. It only becomes news once the UFC releases it and makes it official and then you can report it. Ariel was spreading rumors trying to beat the UFC to the punch and ruin their big press release they planned. That isn’t someone doing any favors for the sport or the UFC. That’s soneone trying to spite the sport for their own gain.

    I think Ariel is a very talented media personality. But I don’t consider him an MMA journalist. He got into this sport because it was riots for the picking for someone with real journalism background. I don’t think he cares about the sport at all, which clearly shows.

    He refused to do the UFC any favors by passing on the rumors. So why shoukd the UFC keep doing him a favor and give up access he has been getting for years?

  3. BrainSmasher on June 6th, 2016 9:34 AM


    I completely disagree. Brock was welcomed to the NFL. If he was good enough he could have stayed. Like a rock or not he is good enough to be in the UFC because the HW division is historically weak. There is people he can beat. Many of them in fact. Yes drawing in fans and marketing and the right amount of finish to get real fight respect is part of it. That doesn’t make it less of a sport. The NFL is always changing rules to favor higher scoring games and increase excitement. That doesn’t make it less of a sport. They do it for the same reason the UFC brought in Brock.

  4. mmaguru on June 6th, 2016 11:06 AM

    You are correct, I should not have said that the fight makes absolutely no sporting sense, Brock was and is a legitimate MMA fighter. He is also the former UFC HW champion. Also, the UFC is feeding him a top 10 HW in Hunt, a very dangerous opponent. This should be a good fight and a much needed addition to the “centennial” event.

  5. Wil on June 6th, 2016 5:00 PM

    they had to do something to bring back casual interest back to the UFC since cash cows Rousey and McGregor were beaten

  6. Jason Cruz on June 6th, 2016 5:41 PM

    MMA Guru and BS,

    I agree with the both of you. Is the world ending?

  7. Combo on June 6th, 2016 8:13 PM

    MMA, a great sport on the rise.

    Another great event this past weekend with amazing fights.

    And we have 200 with Brock, McGregor VS Nate 2 and the MSG event coming up.

    Great times ahead for the new king of combat sports.

  8. tops E on June 6th, 2016 8:36 PM

    Cheapie promotion….desperate

  9. fight fan on June 6th, 2016 9:00 PM

    Ufc is basically wwe’s sister company nowadays. Like guru said, MMA is a sport, UFC is an entertainment league. Martial arts is about discipline and self defense, ufc banks on cheap promos and appealing to the beer drinking crowds. Pride and overseas martial arts is real mma, ufc has stooped to make a cheap buck.

  10. fight fan on June 6th, 2016 9:03 PM

    In regards to the writer, you reap what you sow, he now has to pay the price for spoiling a surprise.

  11. tops E on June 6th, 2016 10:00 PM

    Lol dw said ban stays until his still with ufc….now ban lifted….is he still there? hahahaha

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