MMA reporter Ariel Helwani got the rude reception as he was escorted out of the Forum Saturday night for scooping everyone and reporting the comeback of UFC’s former undisputed heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
The 33-year old Canadian-born MMA journalist narrated that he together with other journalist were escorted out of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., before the main event. He added that photographer Esther Lin and video director E. Casey Leydon were also asked to leave the venue due to leaking the news ahead of the formal announcement from the UFC.
“I love this sport & this job with all my heart. Did nothing unethical. I reported fight news. That’s it. & then told we’re banned for life,” Helwani posted on Twitter.
Helwani reported that Lesnar will be included in the fight card for UFC 200 in July. His story broke out minutes before the UFC announced minutes before the main event at UFC 199 that featured Michael Bisping against Luke Rockhold for the middleweight championship title. The UFC, in a statement through spokesman Dave Sholler, said the promotion believes that journalists should show professional courtesy by contacting the UFC to comment before reporting a story.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported the incident that happened with Helwani and company. Helwani stated that they were escorted out of the arena, told that their credentials have been revoked and that they are banned from covering UFC events. He added that as a journalist, he was just doing his job of reporting a news that is worthy of reporting, which did not sound too well with the UFC.
“We were escorted out of the arena before yesterday’s main event. In short, I was told I was banned for life from covering UFC events in person because I reported the news that Brock Lesnar was close to signing a deal to fight at UFC 200. Our credentials were physically taken away. That’s the general story. They said I should have had the “professional courtesy” to clear the news with them before reporting the news. I had confirmed it with multiple sources and it ended up being right. They confirmed it on the broadcast around 3 hours after I reported it. This has never happened to any of us. Never even hinted at. I went back to my room. Esther and Casey are the very best at what they do. I would argue the best in all of the sports. I’ve been working with them since 2009 and I wish this didn’t happen to them as well,” Helwani explained.
In a statement released Sunday, MMAfighting.com stated that they have not been in contact with the UFC to discuss the matter of banning Helwani together with Lin and Leydon. They hope to hear from the UFC officially and be able to make a dialogue discuss further the matter.
“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,” MMAFighting.com stated.
CBS local reported that this is not the first time that Helwani was in trouble with the UFC. It would be remembered that Helwani got into the nerves of UFC president Dana White for speculating and for scooping about the March 5 fight that highlighted UFC 196 that then featured Conor McGregor against Nate Diaz with Miesha Tate beating Holly Holm in the women’s bantamweight division as co-main events.
Helwani, however, stressed that he will fully explain and discuss the matter during his show “The MMA Hour.”