Sports

UFC Allegedly Bans Reporter Ariel Helwani for Life After Doing His Job

In the modern era, the line of sports PR blurs too far deep into the jurisdiction of a free press.
June 5, 2016, 5:30pm

Longtime UFC reporter—previously for Fox, and currently for SB Nation and MMA fighting—Ariel Helwani was allegedly banned from UFC "for life" at last night's UFC 199, after reporting information prior to when UFC wanted that information released.

This is seemingly the information in question:

Brock Lesnar close to finalizing deal to fight at UFC 200 -- https://t.co/HsloiNar5X pic.twitter.com/X0UhBndhrr
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 5, 2016

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It's not entirely crystal clear that it was Helwani preempting the news about Brock Lesnar fighting at UFC 200, but the chronology of the whole thing makes it seem like UFC was upset that he got the jump—his announcement came hours before UFC made any mention. Yet that is exactly what reporters do: they get information before anyone else does. Here's Helwani's timeline on Twitter last night, outlining the ordeal:

I was escorted out of the building by Zuffa staff before the main event. Credential taken away, too. Didn't see Bisping realize his dream.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 5, 2016

My long-time colleagues @ekc and @allelbows were also escorted out of the building w/ me. Sorry to report no post-fight coverage tonight.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 5, 2016

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.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 5, 2016

Here's hoping cooler heads prevail. I sincerely love every fighter & fan of this sport. You have helped me realize a dream. Thank you.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 5, 2016

MMA Junkie reported that UFC Vice President of Relations Dave Sholler refused to comment about the situation.

In the modern era, the line of sports PR blurs too far deep into the jurisdiction of a free press, and it's sad to see that UFC might have acted so unethically. Here's to hoping Helwani gets that ban lifted, so he can keep doing his job.