Ariel Helwani

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Ariel Helwani
Born (1982-07-08) July 8, 1982 (age 36)
OccupationMMA journalist
Years active2006 – present
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Spouse(s)Jaclyn Stein
RelativesDavid Saad (uncle)
Gad Saad (uncle)

Ariel Helwani (July 8, 1982) is a Canadian mixed martial arts (MMA) journalist.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Helwani was born to Mizrahi Jewish parents in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He grew up in Mount Royal, Quebec and Westmount and attended the Akiva School and Herzliah High School.[5][6] Helwani's mother is from Lebanon and his father is from Egypt.[6][7] He is the maternal nephew of David Saad, a judoka who competed in the men's lightweight event at the 1976 Summer Olympics,[5] and Gad Saad, the evolutionary behavioural scientist.[8]

In 2004, Helwani graduated from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, New York.[4][9]


Helwani has covered mixed martial arts professionally since 2006. He worked for MMA Fighting (news site))[10] before joining ESPN in May 2018.[11] He formerly served as an "MMA Insider" for Fox Sports 1's weekly UFC Tonight show and other pre- and post-event programming.[12] He is the former co-host of the Sirius XM radio show "Fight Club",[5] is currently the host of The MMA Hour podcast [9][13] and the MMA Beat show on YouTube. He's interim vice president of the Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association.[14]

At ESPN he will host a show called "Ariel & The Bad Guy" with Chael Sonnen, continue his podcast, and report on MMA for all ESPN platforms.[11]

UFC 199 controversy / UFC lifetime ban[edit]

On June 4, 2016, Helwani and two colleagues were escorted out of UFC 199 before the main event. He said their press credentials were taken and they were banned for life from all UFC events. He earlier reported the return of Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, hours before UFC announced it on the broadcast, without notifying UFC first. UFC spokesman Dave Sholler said such reporting was against standard practice.[15] According to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Helwani was asked to not report this news, as management suspected a mole had leaked it to him and, without knowing who it was, would then have to fire all possible moles. Through Twitter, Helwani called Rogan's story "100% inaccurate."[16]

UFC president Dana White was displeased. He announced that the ban will last "As long as I'm here." Later, he reputedly added "He can cover all the events he wants, he just can't have a credential" [17]

On the June 6 episode of The MMA Hour, Helwani detailed the incident in an emotional broadcast. He said he was brought to see Dana White, who told him he was banned for being "too negative". He later learned this call was made by Lorenzo Fertitta. He stood by his decision to report the news in a timely manner, and said he would continue to work as an MMA journalist.[18]

Many high profile UFC fighters sympathised with Helwani. Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones wrote on Twitter "That's unfortunate." Former Middleweight champion Chris Weidman said on Twitter "This sport needs the GOAT (slang for Greatest Of All Time) of MMA reporting".[19]

Later on June 6, UFC rescinded the ban, stating: ""Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent from receiving media credentials to cover live UFC events. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting's ability to report news. However, in our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by its lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism. We feel confident our position has now been adequately communicated to the SB Nation editorial team.[20][21]

Mayweather vs. McGregor ban[edit]

Helwani claimed that he was removed from the Showtime broadcast team for the Mayweather vs. McGregor press tour, hours before the first press conference in Los Angeles. "Not working for @SHOsports anymore on the May/Mac tour," wrote Helwani on Twitter, "UFC specifically asked to have me removed. Incredibly disappointed."[22]

UFC 211 post fight conference[edit]

Women's strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk cried following a question by Helwani. Jedrzejczyk's coach Kami Barzini left American Top Team, her training camp. Helwani asked Jedrzejczyk about the event. Jedrzejczyk denied that she knew about this change. Helwani followed up asking whether she will convince Barzini to stay. "I don't want to talk about it," replied Jedrzejczyk. Upset, Jedrzejczyk cried and left the press conference with her belt. On Twitter, Helwani apologised for asking about Barzini.[23] The following Monday on The MMA Hour, Jedrzejczyk said that the incident was not Helwani's fault.


Helwani left MMA Fighting and is now working for ESPN.

Personal life[edit]

Helwani lives in Montclair, New Jersey. Previously, Helwani lived with his wife and three children in Brooklyn, New York.[24][25]

Honors and awards[edit]

Helwani was named "MMA Journalist of the Year" at the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 World MMA Awards.[10][26][27][28]

In 2011, FIGHT! Magazine named him as one of their "Power 20", a list of the "most significant power players, movers, shakers, ambassadors, and game-changers in MMA," describing him as "the Howard Cosell of MMA".[9]

At the beginning of 2015, Helwani won "2014 Journalist of the Year" in the Awakening WMMA Awards.[29]


  1. ^ Lees, James (July 18, 2010). "Full Mount Focus: Ariel Helwani". Archived from the original on 23 August 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  2. ^ Hackett, Miles (October 5, 2009). "FLD Exclusive - Ariel Helwani: The Man Behind the Microphone". Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "VigilanteMMA Exclusive Interview: Ariel Helwani". September 30, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Ariel Helwani". Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  5. ^ a b c Lazarus, David. "Montreal native is a mixed martial arts broadcaster", The Canadian Jewish News, January 13, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Ariel Helwani [@arielhelwani] (7 January 2013). "@misstmartin canadian, but my parents are middle eastern/jewish" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Ariel Helwani [@arielhelwani] (5 July 2010). "Mom from Lebanon, dad from Egypt. RT @Zee: @arielhelwani random question but curious...are you originally Lebanese? Iraqi? Iranian?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ PowerfulJRE (11 August 2015). "Joe Rogan Experience #681 - Gad Saad". YouTube. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  9. ^ a b c FIGHT! Staff, "The 4th Annual Power 20", FIGHT! Magazine, July 2011 issue.
  10. ^ a b "Ariel Helwani on finding his calling down the road less traveled", Martyr magazine, January 12, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Dwornik, Ardi (2018-05-16). "Mixed Martial Arts Insider Ariel Helwani Joins ESPN". ESPN.
  12. ^ "UFC's New Announcing Crew Mostly Impresses". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  13. ^ "The MMA Hour". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  14. ^ "There's now an official MMA Journalists Association". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  15. ^ "6-Time 'MMA Journalist Of The Year' Removed From UFC 199 At Forum, 'Banned For Life'". CBS Los Angeles. Associated Press. 2016-06-05. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  16. ^ Bergmann, Mark (2016-06-08). "Rogan: UFC warned Helwani not to break Lesnar news". Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  17. ^ Robert Redmond. "Dana White Says Ariel Helwani Can Attend UFC 200 One Condition". Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  18. ^ Hale, Andreas (2016-06-06). "MMA reporter Ariel Helwani opens up about lifetime UFC ban". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  19. ^ "The Real Reason Dana White Had Ariel Helwani Life Banned From UFC Events". June 6, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  20. ^ Mookie Alexander (June 6, 2016). ""Official statement: UFC lifts ban on Ariel Helwani,", by Mookie Alexander,". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  21. ^ Russel Ess (June 6, 2016). "UFC releases statement on Ariel Helwani and team". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  22. ^ Russel Ess (July 11, 2017). "Ariel Helwani removed from working with Showtime for leg of Mayweather vs McGregor tour". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  23. ^ Ben Kiely. "UFC Star Joanna Jedrzejczyk Leaves Press Conference Tears Following Ariel Helwani Question". Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  24. ^ "Ariel Helwani". Instagram. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  25. ^ "Ariel Helwani".
  26. ^ "World MMA Awards 2010 Winners". 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  27. ^ Bryan Tucker (March 2, 2017). "World MMA Awards 2017 Results".
  28. ^ Bryan Tucker (July 4, 2018). "World MMA Awards 2018 Results".
  29. ^ "Awakening Fighters WMMA Awards". Retrieved 2015-01-07.

External links[edit]