The UFC and MMA journalist Ariel Helwani have a frosty relationship (to put it mildly). In 2016, UFC president Dana White called Helwani’s reporting “full of shit,” which eventually led to Helwani leaving his role covering the UFC for Fox. Months later, Helwani and a pair of colleagues were “banned for life” by the UFC, which led to pushback by plenty MMA reporters and the eventual reversal of the ban.

Helwani was supposed to work Tuesday’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor press tour event in Los Angeles, but he alleges that he was pulled from the event just hours before it was supposed to occur, thanks to pressure from the UFC.

The decision to pull Helwani from the event must have been made pretty quickly – he was listed on the press release Showtime sent out at 10:51 AM EST.

SHOWTIME Sports announcer Mauro Ranallo will host coverage from Los Angeles with analysis from two-division world champion and SHOWTIME Boxing analyst Paulie Malignaggi, former UFC fighter and current MMA analyst Brendan Schaub and MMA industry veteran Ariel Helwani.  Helwani will take over hosting duties in live coverage from Toronto and New York alongside Malignaggi and Schaub.  Details on coverage from the London event will be announced shortly. 

It’s, once again, a shitty look for the UFC, which seemingly does not give a shit about treating the media respectfully. Last month, a group of MMA journalists (including Helwani) announced the formation of a professional association, designed to help combat garbage like this from happening.

But then again, this isn’t surprising. White thinks Helwani isn’t “a real journalist” because he’s not completely onboard with Team UFC. Mayweather’s team is also not above strongarming journalists it dislikes – before Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao two years ago, both Michelle Beadle and Rachel Nichols had their credentials for the fight revoked, likely because of their coverage of Mayweather’s domestic violence history.

A handful of MMA journalists were vocal in their support of Helwani.

If this is how the UFC is going to behave towards journalists covering a fight that *isn’t even in the sport they promote*, MMA outlets shouldn’t cover it. Of course that’s not going to happen, given the popularity of McGregor and the carnival atmosphere going into this fight, but it would really be nice for these outlet to show some solidarity instead of just sending out a tweet or two and going about their jobs.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.