Rumor’s Swirling About Ariel Helwani’s Cut UFC Access
Where in the world is Ariel Helwani?
Outside of his usual stint over at MMAFighting.com, UFC on FOX correspondent Ariel Helwani was absent from his UFC on FOX duties last weekend. Prior to his disappearance, word hit me (from a reliable source) that he was in a spat with UFC officials and removed from his broadcasting duties.
While I do have it on good authority that something is amiss, right now this entire story is just speculation and rumor. That’s not keeping other new outlets from reporting on it as well, however. So let’s have a crack at it. Shall we?
Everything seemed to start moving down this strange and speculative road at the UFC on FOX 10 pre-fight media day, where Dana White denied Helwani access to his infamous media scrum. Now, you might be thinking to yourself “well sure, I guess that could happen. Dana can be a hot-head, and his palpably-strained on-camera and on-mic relationship with Helwani is usually filled with deadpan comments and not-so-passive aggressiveness”. And you would be right.
You see, while Helwani is still present during media events, he seems to have lost his clout amongst the world’s Mixed Martial Arts leader (after the aforementioned denial of access). Case in point? Well, his traditional post-fight interviews were not being brought to us “courtsey of Fox”, and it almost appeared as if MMA’s top reporter was forced to conduct his interviews out of a Chicago speakeasy, this past Saturday.
Odd, to say the least. And as a fan of Helwani since his MMARated.com days, I’ve been secretly obsessing over this “news” ever since I caught wind of it. I’ve spoken to any and all of my contacts that might be able to shed some light on the subject, and I’ve even reached out to Ariel himself for comment (he has yet to respond); this left me with only one choice, my fellow MMA fans – I went on an internet man-hunt to get to the bottom of it all.
(…I’m like Dog the Bounty Hunter. Minus the odd fascination with hair beads.)
What I’ve come up with, after digging in my heels, is a timeline. Nothing concrete enough, mind you, for me to feel 100% comfortable with reporting this as fact… so take it all with a tiny grain of salt:
- Ariel Helwani Covers Bellator Open workouts in New York (could this have been the issue?)
- Dana White, UFC and Lorenzo Fertitta stop following Helwani on Twitter
- Ariel announces he wasn’t invited to Dana White’s media scrum
- Ariel not present during UFC Weigh-ins, tweets cryptic message about his lack of access
- Ariel not present in FOX broadcast during fight night, does post-fight interviews from back room
Now, it should be noted that despite all of these events, UFC President Dana White took to twitter and told his followers that nothing happened between the UFC and Helwani.
So… has Helwani been forced out of his prominent role with the UFC? Or are all these strange and unusual events just a coincidence? Only Helwani and the UFC big wigs know for sure, I suppose.
However… allow me to leave you with one quite interesting little tidbit:
A few days ago, Helwani sent out this Tweet. Now, it might just seem like an innocent little message, sent out by Helwani while he was enjoying a little time with the fans.
That is, unless you know what Helwani is referencing.
You see, when WWE superstar C.M. Punk – who is a huge MMA fan, and is often seen hanging out with Helwani - was on the outs with the WWE (specifically the WWE brass), he conducted a video promo where he gave a “shout out” to fellow pro-wrestler Colt Cabana.
By “shouting out” Cabana, it looks like Helwani is telling us (in his own tongue-in-cheek way) that he’s on the outs with the UFC.
The plot thickens, Penn nation. The plot thickens.