UFC Lifts Credential Ban Placed on MMA Writer Ariel Helwani

Brian Marron@@brianmarron398Featured Columnist

INGLEWOOD, CA - JUNE 04:  Michael Bisping of England punches Luke Rockhold in their UFC middleweight championship bout during the UFC 199 event at The Forum on June 4, 2016 in Inglewood, California.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The UFC will not restrict MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani from covering future MMA events.

The organization released a statement Monday detailing its decision to reverse its ban on Helwani, and Helwani tweeted about the decision Tuesday morning:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Happy to report the UFC has lifted the ban on me and my colleagues. Cooler heads indeed prevailed. Now back to normal. Thank you again.

After reporting Saturday that Brock Lesnar would return to the sport to fight at UFC 200, which the organization announced later that night, Helwani was kicked out of UFC 199 and was later told he was banned from all future UFC events.

The UFC said that after a conversation with SB Nation, the host site for MMA Fighting, the organization reconsidered its position. It maintained Helwani's actions were wrong but did not state why:

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. ...

We will continue to introduce this sport and its athletes to new fans across the world, and we will do so by working alongside media across all platforms.

On his show The MMA Hour, Helwani explained his actions and thoughts on the situation (via Yahoo Sports' Andreas Hale).

"The last thing I want to do is sit on news," Helwani said. "If you're sitting on it, you're not doing it right."

Helwani said UFC President Dana White told him to leave the event because he was being "too negative." Helwani said he thought Lorenzo Fertitta—who co-owns Zuffa, the UFC's parent company—forced White to ban him.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

"I felt deep down inside that [White] didn't want to do that to me, but he was doing what he was told by his partner," Helwani said. "He may have been upset that I beat him to the punch [on announcing the Lesnar news]."

The restoration of Helwani's credentials sparked reactions from the world of journalism, and ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto took to Twitter after hearing the news:

Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN

UFC has reinstated @arielhelwani. Happy to see this. Looking forward to continue the discussions it's prompted behind the scenes, too.

UFC fighter Sarah Kaufman had praised Helwani before the UFC's announcement:

Sarah Kaufman @mmasarah

For the first time ever, I've sat and watched an entire webcast/podcast. @themmahour @arielhelwani moving stuff. Glad you put it out there

The story is not over, as more details are likely to emerge regarding the UFC's flip-flop. Still, it's encouraging that Helwani didn't lose access to the sport.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!