During Saturday night’s UFC 199 pay-per-view, well-respected MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, along with the rest of his crew from MMAFighting.com, were escorted out of The Forum in Inglewood, California after Helwani broke the story that Brock Lesnar was going to return to the UFC at UFC 200 on July 9. Helwani was told that he was going to be banned from all UFC events for life.
In an interview with TMZ, UFC President Dana White said that Helwani would be banned from all UFC events “as long as I’m here.”
On Monday’s MMA Hour, Helwani told his side of what happened on Saturday night, and he also talked about other problems he’s had with the UFC over the last several years.
Now, just a couple of days after the UFC decided to ban Helwani for life, it’s being reported by Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times that Helwani’s lifetime ban has been lifted. Below is an official statement from the UFC on the matter.
“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. Following a conversation with SB Nation, UFC will not prevent MMAFighting.com from receiving credentials to cover UFC.”
The UFC was furious about Helwani breaking the Brock Lesnar return story because they wanted to be the first to break that news.
Last Friday night, Dana White denied that Lesnar would be making his return to the UFC at UFC 200 when asked about it by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. So, it’s pretty clear that the organization didn’t want that news coming out until the UFC 199 broadcast.
The UFC didn’t tell a whole lot of people that Lesnar was returning prior to UFC 199, as even UFC color commentator Joe Rogan was shocked that the former WWE and UFC Heavyweight Champion was going to be making his return on July 9.
Helwani also broke the story that Conor McGregor was going to be getting his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202, which was another thing that the UFC wanted to announce before anyone else could.
During the MMA Hour, Helwani was in tears, saying that he has no idea why the UFC decided to ban him because, in his opinion, he didn’t do anything wrong. He was also hopeful that cooler heads would prevail and that the relationship between the two sides could go back to how it was.
“I hope there will be some change and I hope we can go back to how it was. It’s hard to be told your career’s over when you don’t think you did anything wrong. I’m not going anywhere. It’s going to take a lot more to get rid of me. There’s nothing better than this sport and this job. I’m proud of being a journalist.”
There has been an overwhelming amount of support for Helwani, so it’s no surprise that the UFC ultimately decided to lift the lifetime ban on the popular MMA journalist.
Helwani seemed bummed out that he wasn’t going to be able to cover the historic UFC 200 event on July 9, but it now looks like he will be allowed to do just that.
So far, Helwani hasn’t commented on his lifetime ban being lifted. But, you should probably expect a comment from him at some point in the next couple of hours.
[Image via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]