Now that he is no longer attached to ESPN and does not have to worry about its business relationship with the UFC, Ariel Helwani feels very comfortable talking about his time with the “global sports leader”.
On Monday’s “Dan Le Bata Show with Sturgets”, the mixed martial arts reporter spoke in detail about his time on ESPN and his unstable relationship with Dana White. The UFC chairman has never been Helwani’s biggest fan, especially Kick him out of UFC 199 He was also prohibited from participating in all future events after Helwani accurately reported Brock Lesnar’s UFC return. (The ban is Later dismissed.)
That happened in 2016, when Helwani was working at MMAFighting.com, but White was not enthusiastic about him after joining ESPN in 2018.Earlier this year, White Calling Helwani “Asshole” In response to Helwani’s criticism of former mixed martial arts player Gina Carano, who was strongly opposed by controversial social media posts comparing the current political climate with Nazi Germany.
Helwani’s three-year contract with ESPN expired in June, and he decided to seek other opportunities with Vox Media, Spotify, Substack and BT Sport. But Lebatard wanted to know if it was really Helwani who decided to leave ESPN, or if White played a role in his exit-considering that ESPN and UFC agreed, this is not completely unimaginable. Five-year, $1.5 billion transaction In 2018, this gave ESPN the entire rights package.
His complete response:
“So, I can’t answer this question with yes or no, but I will explain it like this. From the moment I publicly joined ESPN-I don’t know my life, the life of my children-I don’t have “don’t know my When I was hired by ESPN, I don’t know they are negotiating with UFC. I do not know. At that time, their staff really had an MMA person.I thought, “Well, this sport is developing, Conor McGregor, they want to increase coverage. I don’t know other things. Then if you remember—you can go back and see—they signed a A 10 card transaction, ESPN+ only. Then I thought,’Well, are they the only exclusive broadcast partner. I can accept it. Then it became the whole weird thing, and then I started to get nervous. So From the moment it was announced that I was going to ESPN in mid-May, they had already signed a deal with ESPN, UFC did it, and Dana White tried to prevent me from even getting into my first day. I mean, he wanted to stop me-my first day was June 15th-tried to stop me [from getting to] first day. Now, it is commendable that many executives there, they all refused. They all support me. They gave me the show. They gave me a chance. However, in the next three years, this was one obstacle after another. This is one question after another. That’s all kinds of things.
“I’ll tell you a story. I never even shared this story. When I was at the event, Dan and everyone — assuming it was weighing, right? — there was a table there, and I did it beforehand. Some things, but Dana White will come as a guest in 30 minutes. I have to be escorted out of the venue, because according to his request, I cannot be near him or within his sight. So here I am, I am working On the studios of the company and the security, the best people in the world are embarrassed because they have to do this and will tell me,’I’m sorry, Ariel. We have to take you out.’ Do you know how this makes people feel?” We must take you out of the meeting place, because Dana White doesn’t want you in his sight. I said, “I’m just sitting over there.” I won’t even look at him. I will look at my cell phone. What are we doing here? “So this is the kind of thing I have to deal with. I can’t go backstage. I can’t do many other things.”
Although Helwani had no “malicious” towards anyone at ESPN, he did admit that he was “disappointed” with the offer received after the previous contract expired.
“For the record, they did give me a proposal, and I think many people reporting on MMA will be excited about this proposal,” Helwani said. “At the end of the day, there was an offer that I had to reject. They could easily say,’Thank you for your time. Let’s go our separate ways.’ But they did give me an offer. This is not a proposal that I think is fair. , Is not what I want, and even reflects the work I have done in the past three years. I am 100% disappointed with the proposal “This is not what I expected. “
The 39-year-old added that he had never thought of working for ESPN only for three years, but he felt that everything was “somewhat successful.” As a mixed martial arts journalist, Helwani is now more “free” and “independent”.
“[White] Maybe think he kicked me out,” Helwani said. “He might—in fact, I know he was celebrating my absence, but I would argue that he helped me a lot because of all his complaints against me. Busy. The past three years. “
You can watch Le Batard’s full interview with Helwani below.