UFC president Dana White finally breaks his silence and confirms the lifetime ban imposed of MMA reporter Ariel Helwani for not coordinating with the UFC promotion department in breaking the news about Brock Lesnar’s return match for UFC 200 this July.
White is sending a strong message to Helwani for breaking not only the Lesnar fight in UFC 200 but also the contract involving the much-anticipated rematch between Conor McGregor against Nate Diaz for UFC 202 on Aug. 20. White told TMZ that the life sentence ban will be for a long as he is the president of the UFC.
“As long as I’m here. He can cover all the events he wants, he just can’t have a credential,” White said.
He also added that Helwani can come watch the two UFC matches that he scoops up, but he has to buy his own tickets because he will not be given any passes. 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 to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sport that 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.
“I was brought to the back by UFC [public relations] and told by [White] that I had to leave the arena. Dana mentioned that from what I recalled that Brock Lesnar was upset the news was released early and that this could have ruined their deal. He repeatedly said, ‘Go cover Bellator. We don’t want you here.’ … I said, ‘What did I do wrong?’ He said, ‘You’re too negative.'” Helwani explained.
The Bleacher Report noted that Lesnar appeared on SportsCenter, Monday, and told Hannah Storm that he did not have anything to do with Helwani’s ban.
“I don’t even know who that is…I don’t do Twitter. I’m in the dark. I have no idea,” Lesnar added.
An emotional Helwani went on air The MMA Hour and offered his side of the story and according to Andreas Hale of Yahoo Sports, Helwani stated that he did not want to be in the news, but rather he would want to break the news. He explained that he knew that the UFC was holding a spot for UFC 200 and that he heard from multiple sources that a deal is being cooked between Lesnar and an opponent who will later be known as Mark Hunt. Helwani explained that he was just doing his work as a journalist and he feels that he did not break any protocol on airing out the news rather he is proud of being a credible reporter of the sport that he has grown to love.
“I hate the fact I’m not talking about Michael Bisping and him finally winning the UFC middleweight today. The last thing I want to do is sit on news. If you’re sitting on it, you’re not doing it right. That’s my role, I go get news. I’m not trying to steal anyone’s shine. If I have news and sit on it I’m not doing my job,” Helwani said.
He added that his relationship with the UFC and White have gone a long way and that he felt White did not mean what he said and that he was just after the orders given him by his partner, Lorenzo Fertitta.
“I felt deep down inside that he didn’t want to do that to me, but he was doing what he was told by his partner. He may have been upset that I beat him to the punch [on announcing the Lesnar news],” Helwani further explained.
With the UFC 199 events, White and the UFC’s decision to ban Helwani earned negative comments from other sports media as reported by the Bloody Elbow condemning the ban and called Helwani’s ejection as one of the major down note in the promotion’s history.
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