MMA journalist Ariel Helwani announces he is leaving ESPN

Originally published at MMA journalist Ariel Helwani announces he will be leaving ESPN

Ariel Helwani, the preeminent journalist in Mixed Martial Arts, has announced that he will be leaving ESPN later this month at the end of his three-year contract.


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Helwani, 38, revealed his news via Instagram on Sunday noting that it was his decision to leave and will end his tenure at the network on Tuesday, June 15th while calling it “an amazing three years”.

The journalist left MMA Fighting in June 2018 to take a role within ESPN right as the network was getting ready to announce its forthcoming relationship as the exclusive home of the UFC in the United States.

Helwani was offered a new contract by ESPN but could explore his options and found “many exciting opportunities” outside of ESPN, which he will reveal at a later date and will conclude “a stressful six-month period”.

During his stay at ESPN, Helwani was one of its featured MMA reporters and the co-host of DC & Helwani with Daniel Cormier and Ariel & The Bad Guy with Chael Sonnen.

In the ten-minute video, Helwani thanked ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro “for having my back”, Vice President of MMA Production Glenn Jacobs, and Senior Coordinating Producer for the NBA on ESPN Tim Corrigan.

Ironically, his announcement occurs exactly five years to the day where he hosted his former show, The MMA Hour, days after he was escorted out of The Forum in Inglewood, California during the UFC 199 event. During the event, Helwani broke the news that Brock Lesnar would be returning at UFC 200 and beat the UFC to its announcement on the pay-per-view broadcast. After being summoned to the back, Helwani was escorted out of the building alongside colleagues Casey Leydon and Esther Lin.

The ban issued by the UFC was quickly rescinded after it became a major news story within sports media and Helwani did several interviews and provided the blow-by-blow on his own show.

After leaving a position at Spike TV, Helwani launched his Jarry Park website in 2007 and would land a job at MMA Rated within one year of the site’s launch and assuming a full-time role with the new outlet.

After the demise of MMA Rated, he would work for AOL-Fanhouse where he launched The MMA Hour (under a different name) in June 2009. The show quickly became the biggest of its kind in MMA with a who’s who of the sport appearing on a regular basis each Monday. After a purchase by Vox Media, MMA Fighting continued to grow with the addition of many of the top reporters within the industry and won numerous awards.

His contract with MMA Fighting ended in June 2018 and he left for ESPN and detailed his decision to exit MMA Fighting when he spoke to POST Wrestling in December 2018.

Helwani to post wrestling??? J/k, but it would be awesome to hear more from him and John on the site. Wish him the best and I know he’s going to do great things in the future with his MMA coverage. He already had the contacts before ESPN, vastly elevated their coverage while he was there and will do a lot better on his own than with what ESPN was probably offering him to stay.

Dan Le Batard and John Skipper (former ESPN president, former head of DAZN Sports) have formed Meadowlark Media recently and signed a number of former ESPN personalities like Adnan Virk, Amin Elhassan, Kate Fagan etc.

Helwani was a regular guest on Le Batard’s show at ESPN and was very vocal about how much of a fan he was before even getting to work with them. As far as i’m aware they haven’t signed any MMA/wrestling experts yet, so it would make complete sense bringing Helwani on board, especially with the DAZN connection.


Best of luck to Ariel and excited to see what he does next, but damn I’m gonna miss the Ariel & DC show. Best and most entertaining MMA news show hands down.