An emotional Ariel Helwani dedicated this week’s edition of the MMA Hour to talk about his removal from UFC 199 on Saturday night and his meeting with UFC president Dana White beforehand.
Helwani was banned for life by the promotion for leaking news regarding Brock Lesnar making his return to the octagon at UFC 200 and information relating to Conor McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202.
While speaking on the MMA Hour, Helwani explained the sequence of events that led to his meeting with White, his credentials being revoked, and his role as an MMA journalist in general.
“A member of the UFC PR staff came up to me and said that ‘Dana White wants to speak you.'”, said Helwani(via BJPenn.com) “Michael Bisping was about to fight Luke Rockhold and I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be the most pleasant conversation and I didn’t feel like anything good was going to come out of it.”
Helwani, being the journalist he is, was more interested in covering the impending main event between Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping but the UFC was persistent in getting Helwani to meet with Dana White immediately.
“Couple minutes later, a higher ranking PR person came to me in a very serious way and said, ‘You must go to the back.'”
Helwani explained to the UFC staff member that he was reluctant to speak with White unless he had a colleague present. Eventually, the MMA Hour host was brought to the back where things got a little heated with the UFC president.
“I didn’t want to go alone. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Helwani. “I wasn’t going to go into that storm alone.”
“So we go to the back. It was just a hallway, 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.’ “
Helwani then asked, “why?” Which White responded, “You’re too negative.”
Throughout the show, Helwani continued to claim his innocence in the events that took place, believing he was doing his job like anyone else, simply reporting the news.
“I was talking about a guy who was about to sign a contract to fight. I wasn’t talking about super secretive stuff. I wasn’t talking about the sale. I wasn’t talking about disparaging things. I was talking regular fight news and let’s be honest, all of this is happening.”
“People are trying to say that I am standing up for journalism and I’m this martyr and all this stuff. That’s cool, and if you want to say that, fine but it’s all a little bit embarrassing because none of this is some great investigative journalism that I’m doing. I’m not going to win a Pulitzer for any of this. This is fight stuff. This is what we love to, this is barbershop stuff.”
Helwani touched on other incidents involving the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the past, all of which you can view in the video player below.
James McDonald, Pundit Arena
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