The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) released a statement Monday lifting the lifetime ban on decorated MMA reporter Ariel Helwani and his crew at MMAFighting.com, who were escorted out of the premises of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., before the main event of UFC 199.
In a statement released by the UFC it stated that 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 the 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,” the statement reads.
It further noted that the UFC’s goal as the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion is to cultivate interest in its world-class athletes and events, and deliver for the fans.
“We will continue to introduce this sport and its athletes to new fans across the world, and we will do so by working alongside media across all platforms,” the statement add.
Saturday night saw Helwani together with photographer Esther Lin and video director E. Casey Leydon were escorted out of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., before the main event of UFC 199. Helwani narrated they were escorted to the back of the venue and were told to leave the premises because White was upset with him for breaking the two major fights and for putting in jeopardy the negotiations of the Brock Lesnar fight.
Despite the lifting of the ban, UFC still received negative comments on how the situation as handled. Others called the ban overkill and stupid while others claim that it was not only an assault against Helwani but also an assault to journalism as a profession.
Dana Hallengren, who works at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, stated that the UFC should apologize to Helwani and his group for all the hassle caused by their coverage of UFC 199.
“Apologize to Ariel for your threats, bullying, and alleged physical assault (if true). He provides so much hype for your events and deserves a lot better than that attempted hatchet job. You should also apologize to the UFC 199 winners, Conor, Nate, and Brock for stealing their thunder with the headlines of your stupidity rather than the fights,” Hallengren stressed.
Sherwin Sullivan Tjia, who works at Chat Perdu Productions, noted that the UFC should respect people especially journalists, who have to help the UFC get to where it is now. He explains that the UFC should remember that journalists will do their job and the UFC as a whole should accept the fact that there will be times that it will not always go their way.
“Look, I get it. The UFC wants to control and manage its announcements and the public’s perception of the company. You lost your temper on Saturday night and made a hasty decision. You thought this would blow over like Burt Watson and Stitch Duran. But Ariel Helwani has a huge platform where he could continue to air his grievances and so you have to back down. Good on you. But the fact has you created a monster. You wanted MMA to grow worldwide. Congrats. You did it. But now you have to act like any other huge sporting league. You have to grow up too. And part of that means respecting that there are entire industries that have grown up around MMA. And you can’t just co-opt them like you did with sponsorships. You gotta learn to respect one another’s jobs. MMA journalism isn’t just another PR avenue for you. And they’re not going to act that way. You were well within your rights to take away Ariel’s press credentials, but we as MMA fans are then well within our rights to riot until the UFC feels it where it hurts – it is the bottom line. MMA fans can change the public perception of this company you’ve worked so hard to create integrity for. So maybe let’s all cool it a little and hug it out for UFC 200, okay?” Tija said.
It seems cooler heads prevailed over the situation and both parties hope that all will be as well again and that they would continue to promote the sport that they both have grown to love with. Especially for the UFC, who continues to be the leader in the sport of mixed martial arts.
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