MMA journalist Ariel Helwani leaving MMA Fighting for ESPN

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Veteran mixed martial arts journalist Ariel Helwani is leaving SB Nation’s MMA Fighting website with the announcement that he is joining ESPN.

The deal was announced Thursday with Helwani set to host “The Ariel Helwani MMA Show” at his new home, as well as an additional 30-minute weekly show with Chael Sonnen on ESPN+ along with Helwani providing news coverage on ESPN’s on-air and digital outlets.

After launching his own blog at, Helwani worked for several outlets, before joining AOL Fanhouse, which later became MMA Fighting. It was at AOL / MMA Fighting that Helwani launched “The MMA Hour” program in 2009, which has become the most popular mixed martial arts program in the space.

Helwani has been named MMA’s Journalist of the Year on six occasions at the World MMA Awards and is nominated for this year’s award.

In June 2016, Helwani was at the center of controversy after he and his MMA Fighting colleagues were escorted out of the UFC 199 event in Inglewood, California. The removal followed a story broken by Helwani regarding Brock Lesnar’s return to the promotion, which was reported before the UFC’s announcement on the broadcast. Several days later amidst pressure, the UFC reversed its position on revoking MMA Fighting’s credentials to future events.

Helwani’s final edition of “The MMA Hour” will be Monday, June 11th and his new show will be airing each Monday.


Just another reason to not watch ESPN.

Does this mean there is a chance John Pollock could be on ESPN one day as a guest on Ariel’s new show!!!

Congrats to Ariel. I don’t follow MMA very closely and Ariel and John always do a great job at getting me caught up before a big show.

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Good for Ariel. He is a knowledgeable dude and seems to really cover MMA with care. Even though I’m pessimistic about how ESPN will utilize him, I’m sure he’ll do the best he can with what he’s given and he’ll at least get to raise his profile in sports journalism.

Good for Ariel. He will always be a polarizing figure to the MMA community, but Ariel has done a lot for the growth of the sport, and there is a reason why he is the face of journalism for MMA.

John and Wai you guys are a lot better than Ariel so I’m not sure he got so far.

Very happy for Ariel! He has been through a lot and deserves some good breaks. Will be very interesting to see how he is positioned with ESPN and UFC since I recall at one point there was bad blood (?). I’m glad to see things going right for him. JPo and Wai won’t be far behind!