|Born||April 1, 1982 (age 39)|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Occupation||Mixed martial arts reporter for ESPN|
Ariel Helwani (born April 1, 1982) is a Canadianjournalist who primarily covers mixed martial arts. Helwani is commonly considered the greatest and most impactful MMA reporter of all time, and held special status with the UFC until his preemptive leaking of the appearance of Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, for which he was banned for life by UFC president Dana White. (MMA).
- Twitter Livestream from 14/3/2021.
- Share your videos with friends, family, and the world.
Early life and education
Ariel Helwani's MMA Show starts off with Ariel's reaction to this past weekend's UFC 239 event in Las Vegas. Next, featherweight Arnold Allen discusses the 6-0 start to his UFC career (8:11). Daniel Cormier & Ariel Helwani are back in your lives to recap a UFC Fight Night that saw a pair of legend killers in Alexander Volkov & Cory Sandhagen reign. Missed Fists: ‘La Loba’ wins wild brawl at Combate Global show, more. MMA Fighting’s Alexander K. Lee takes a look back at recent overlooked battles, including a standout performance from.
Ufc Ariel Helwani
Helwani was born to Mizrahi Jewish parents in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Helwani's mother is from Lebanon, and his father is from Egypt. He is the maternal nephew of David Saad, a judoka who competed in the men's lightweight event at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and Gad Saad, an evolutionary psychologist. Helwani is fluent in English, French, and Hebrew, and understands Spanish and Arabic.
Helwani grew up in Mount Royal, Quebec, and Westmount (a Montreal suburb), and attended the Akiva School and Herzliah High School. In 2004, Helwani graduated from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, New York.
Helwani has covered mixed martial arts professionally since 2006. He worked for MMA Fighting before joining ESPN in May 2018. He formerly served as an 'MMA Insider' for Fox Sports 1's weekly UFC Tonight show and other pre- and post-event programming. He is the former co-host of the Sirius XM radio show Fight Club, was formerly the host of The MMA Hour podcast  and the MMA Beat show on YouTube. He's interim vice president of the highly controversial Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association.
At ESPN he hosts a show called Ariel & The Bad Guy with Chael Sonnen, continues his podcast, and reports on MMA for all ESPN platforms.
UFC 199 controversy / UFC lifetime ban
On June 4, 2016, Helwani and two colleagues were escorted out of UFC 199 before the main event. He said their press credentials were taken and they were banned for life from all UFC events. He earlier reported the return of Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, hours before UFC announced it on the broadcast, without notifying UFC first. UFC spokesman Dave Sholler said such reporting was against standard practice. According to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Helwani was asked to not report this news, as management suspected a mole had leaked it to him and, without knowing who it was, would then have to fire all possible moles. Through Twitter, Helwani called Rogan's story '100% inaccurate.'
UFC president Dana White was displeased. He announced that the ban will last 'As long as I'm here.' Later, he reputedly added 'He can cover all the events he wants, he just can't have a credential'.
On the June 6 episode of The MMA Hour, Helwani detailed the incident in an emotional broadcast. He said he was brought to see Dana White, who told him he was banned for being 'too negative'. He later learned this call was made by Lorenzo Fertitta. He stood by his decision to report the news in a timely manner, and said he would continue to work as an MMA journalist.
Many high profile UFC fighters sympathised with Helwani. Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones wrote on Twitter 'That's unfortunate.' Helwani's close friend Daniel Cormier expressed similar sentiment. Former Middleweight champion Chris Weidman said on Twitter 'This sport needs the GOAT [slang for Greatest Of All Time] of MMA reporting'.
Later on June 6, UFC rescinded the ban, stating:
Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent MMAFighting.com from receiving media credentials to cover live UFC events. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting's ability to report news. However, in our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by its lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism. We feel confident our position has now been adequately communicated to the SB Nation editorial team.
Mayweather vs. McGregor ban
Helwani claimed that he was removed from the Showtime broadcast team for the Mayweather vs. McGregor press tour, hours before the first press conference in Los Angeles. 'Not working for @SHOsports anymore on the May/Mac tour,' wrote Helwani on Twitter, 'UFC specifically asked to have me removed. Incredibly disappointed.'
Ariel Helwani Ali Abdelaziz Twitter
In June 2018, Helwani joined ESPN from SB Nation's MMAFighting.com. Helwani's employment at ESPN began shortly after ESPN announced their 5-year, $1.5 billion rights package with the UFC. At ESPN, Helwani hosts Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Twitter and YouTube, 'Ariel and the Bad Guy' on ESPN + and the DC & Helwani podcast. He also contributes to occasional ESPN broadcasts of the NBA.
Honors and awards
Helwani was named 'MMA Journalist of the Year' at the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 , 2017, 2018, 2019 World MMA Awards.
In 2011, FIGHT! Magazine named him as one of their 'Power 20', a list of the 'most significant power players, movers, shakers, ambassadors, and game-changers in MMA,' describing him as 'the Howard Cosell of MMA'.
At the beginning of 2015, Helwani won '2014 Journalist of the Year' in the Awakening WMMA Awards.
He has hosted two separate Helwani Nose Awards events in Chicago and Las Vegas, where current and former MMA fighters participate in a UFC trivia show for the Nose World Order belt.
- ^Lees, James (July 18, 2010). 'Full Mount Focus: Ariel Helwani'. FullMount.co.uk. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
- ^Hackett, Miles (October 5, 2009). 'FLD Exclusive - Ariel Helwani: The Man Behind the Microphone'. FightLockdown.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
- ^'VigilanteMMA Exclusive Interview: Ariel Helwani'. VigilanteMMA.com. September 30, 2010. Archived from the original on October 5, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
- ^ ab'Ariel Helwani'. MMAFighting.com. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- ^ abAriel Helwani [@arielhelwani] (January 7, 2013). '@misstmartin canadian, but my parents are middle eastern/jewish' (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- ^Ariel Helwani [@arielhelwani] (July 5, 2010). 'Mom from Lebanon, dad from Egypt. RT @Zee: @arielhelwani random question but curious...are you originally Lebanese? Iraqi? Iranian?' (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- ^ abcLazarus, David. 'Montreal native is a mixed martial arts broadcaster', The Canadian Jewish News, January 13, 2011.
- ^PowerfulJRE (August 11, 2015). 'Joe Rogan Experience #681 - Gad Saad'. YouTube. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- ^'Ariel Helwani tweet'. Twitter. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- ^ abcFIGHT! Staff, 'The 4th Annual Power 20Archived December 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine', FIGHT! Magazine, July 2011 issue.
- ^'Ariel Helwani on finding his calling down the road less traveledArchived February 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine', Martyr magazine, January 12, 2012.
- ^ abDwornik, Ardi (May 16, 2018). 'Mixed Martial Arts Insider Ariel Helwani Joins ESPN'. ESPN.
- ^'UFC's New Announcing Crew Mostly Impresses'. Awfulannouncing.com. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- ^'The MMA Hour'. Mmafighting.com. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- ^'There's now an official MMA Journalists Association'. Si.com. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- ^'6-Time 'MMA Journalist Of The Year' Removed From UFC 199 At Forum, 'Banned For Life''. CBS Los Angeles. Associated Press. June 5, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- ^Bergmann, Mark (June 8, 2016). 'Rogan: UFC warned Helwani not to break Lesnar news'. Bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- ^Robert Redmond. 'Dana White Says Ariel Helwani Can Attend UFC 200 One Condition'. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
- ^Hale, Andreas (June 6, 2016). 'MMA reporter Ariel Helwani opens up about lifetime UFC ban'. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- ^'The Real Reason Dana White Had Ariel Helwani Life Banned From UFC Events'. June 6, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2017.[permanent dead link]
- ^Mookie Alexander (June 6, 2016). ''Official statement: UFC lifts ban on Ariel Helwani, MMAFighting.com', by Mookie Alexander, BloodyElbow.com'. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- ^Russel Ess (June 6, 2016). 'UFC releases statement on Ariel Helwani and team'. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- ^Russel Ess (July 11, 2017). 'Ariel Helwani removed from working with Showtime for leg of Mayweather vs McGregor tour'. Bjpenn.com. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- ^'Ariel Helwani: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Host & Reporter'. ESPN Press Room. ESPN Press Room. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- ^'ESPN to broadcast 30 UFC events per year during 5-year deal'. ESPN. ESPN. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- ^'Helwani explains what Raptors' title means to all of Canada'. ESPN. ESPN. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- ^Rhodes, Stephen (December 31, 2009). '2009 World MMA Awards - Official Results'. Octagon Buzz. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^Mrosko, Geno (December 2, 2010). '2010 World MMA Awards Winners and Results'. MMAmania.com. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^'MMA Frenzy'. TheMix.net. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^Tucker, Bryan (January 11, 2013). 'World MMA Awards 2012 Results'. MMA Fighting. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^https://www.fightersonlymag.com/content/news/22376-7th-annual-fighters-only-world-mma-awards-winners-list.Missing or empty
- ^https://www.fightersonlymag.com/wmmaa/23919-eighth-annual-world-mma-awards-winners.Missing or empty
- ^https://www.mmafighting.com/2019/7/3/20681393/world-mma-awards-2019-results.Missing or empty
- ^Tucker, Bryan (July 3, 2018). 'World MMA Awards 2018 Results'. MMA Fighting. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^'Amanda Nunes, Israel Adesanya, Jorge Masvidal pace major winners at World MMA Awards'. MMA Junkie. December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
- ^'Awakening Fighters WMMA Awards'. Awakeningfighters.com. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
Ariel Helwani On Twitter
There’s been a long history between veteran MMA journalist Ariel Helwani and UFC president Dana White, including apparent UFC pressure behind Fox pushing Helwani outin 2016, an attempted for-life ban of Helwani laterin 2016 (which was eventually reversed), the formation of the MMAJA in 2017 to provide a formal group to push back on UFC demands (with Helwani as vice president), and White (seen above in May 2020) reportedly applying pressure to get Helwani kicked off the Mayweather-McGregor press tour later that year. Since then, Helwani has joined ESPN (in 2018) and discussed how they “had his back” in a way that Fox didn’t. But ESPN is still a UFC rights partner, and White (who’s still the UFC president even after their 2016 sale) has continued to take pokes at all sorts of journalists, including Helwani. And that went to a particularly interesting level this week with former UFC star turned actor Gina Carano getting fired after posting antisemitic memes (there’s good reason for using that term without a hyphen), and with White defending her and taking a shot at Helwani (who is Jewish) for his coverage of that:
Here's Dana White calling Ariel Helwani – a Jewish man – a 'douche' for having an opinion on Carano's repeated, and very public anti-semitism.
Ariel Helwani Twitter
Defending MMA (& pro wrestling for that matter) has always been an uphill battle but these last few years have been incredibly trying. pic.twitter.com/DWnmitFCxH
Ufc Ariel Helwani Twitter
— Ryan McKinnell (@RyanMcKinnell) February 13, 2021
This is a ridiculous comment from White, especially considering the substance of the “mistake” Carano made (she shared an antisemitic Monopoly meme in December, made posts comparing the Holocaust to political dissent today, and tweeted about debunked election conspiracy theories). It’s absolutely absurd for the president of a professional sports organization to defend that. But that fits in with a long history of people tolerating White’s unprofessional behavior, so it can’t be said that it’s too surprising. Still, this particular comment was especially bad, and that drew flak from even the likes of formerESPN host Dan Le Batard:
If @ESPN is interested in journalism, it can ask some questions here of bully and corporate partner @danawhite. There is certainly a douche here. But it ain’t the journalist @arielhelwani. Pick a side, ESPN. Quiet is complicit. — Dan https://t.co/hPLzHI8v1K
Ariel Helwani (@ariel Helwani) / Twitter
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) February 14, 2021
There are of course a few points of context to consider here. First, Helwani has appeared on Le Batard’s show before, and was remarkably cool even after Le Batard unnecessarily called MMA “the damn sewer.” (And those comments are worth consideration on their own; it’s not like Le Batard was promoting the UFC or friendly with White, and some of his comments about the sport have been unnecessarily antagonistic.) Beyond that, Le Batard just went through a very public divorce from ESPN, and it’s a lot easier to criticize a giant corporate entity when you’re on the outside. But none of that obliviates Le Batard’s larger point about White being the particular “douche” in this scenario, and Le Batard is quite right that ESPN has long been too eager to overlook problems when they come from a rights partner.
Look, overall, none of this probably means too much in the end. But this flare-up is interesting, especially as a further revelation of how flawed White is as the public face of the UFC. There was zero incentive for him to contribute anything to Carano’s defense; she is not a current UFC fighter, and no one really expects to ever see her in competitive MMA again. But he still decided to use the discussion around her as a reason to take a shot at Helwani, and that’s an awful look for the man who’s the main face of a supposedly-professional sports league. Nothing here is likely to lead to any change, but this saga is a good illustration of just who White is; he’s not someone making smart business decisions for the UFC, and he’s not someone acting like a reasonable head of a credible professional sports league, but he is someone who’s willing to carry petty grievances forever and who’s willing to waste his public capital defending former UFC-affiliated fighters against reasonable media coverage. And UFC owner Endeavor should consider very carefully if it’s still to their benefit to have a PR liability like White representing them.
Ariel Helwani Mma Show Twitter
[@LeBatardShow on Twitter]