Ariel Helwani was escorted from the building at UFC 199 before Michael Bisping’s triumph over Luke Rockhold according to his Twitter feed. The longtime mma reporter had his press credentials revoked and was apparently told he was “banned for life”. He tweeted that he only “reported fight news” and “did nothing unethical”.
What may have caused the UFC to take such hostile action against Helwani? The reporter has scooped the promotion on fight announcements in the past, including floating out the idea of Nate Diaz filling in for RDA against McGregor. Some have speculated that may have cost him his Fox job.
Did history repeat itself tonight? After the announcement of Brock Lesnar’s return at UFC 200 with opponent TBD, Helwani tweeted that heavyweight Josh Barnett is “actively campaigning to get the Lesnar fight”, and that’s he’s “in the building”. Ariel rarely floats out rumors with no base, and perhaps he’s beat them to a fight announcement once again.
Helwani tweeted that he hopes cooler heads will prevail. Time will tell.
Update: Helwani posted an article on mmafighting.com at 8:10pm, approximately 3 hours before the UFC announced Brock’s return, that the promotion and Lesnar were close to finalizing the deal for the bout at 200. That post likely urked the promotion more than the Barnett tweet would have. Perhaps it was a combination of factors. According to a tweet from LA Times sports reporter Lance Pugmire the UFC claims that it’s “not entirely accurate” that Ariel was booted from the Forum for breaking Brock Lesnar news.