Ariel Helwani

Ariel Helwani (born July 8, 1982) is a Canadian-American[1] journalist who primarily covers mixed martial arts.

Ariel Helwani
Ariel Helwani.png
Ariel Helwani in 2021
Born (1982-07-08) July 8, 1982 (age 39)
NationalityCanadian, US
OccupationMMA Journalist
Years active2006–present

Early life and educationEdit

Helwani was born to Mizrahi Jewish parents in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Helwani's mother is from Lebanon, and his father is from Egypt.[2][3] He is the maternal nephew of David Saad, a judoka who competed in the men's lightweight event at the 1976 Summer Olympics,[4] and Gad Saad, an evolutionary psychologist.[5] Helwani is fluent in English, French, and Hebrew, and understands Spanish and Arabic.[6]

Helwani grew up in Mount Royal, Quebec, and Westmount (city on the Island of Montreal), and attended the Akiva School and Herzliah High School.[4][2] In 2004, Helwani graduated from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in Syracuse, New York.[7][8]

Helwani currently has three children.[9]

Helwani is a fan of the Buffalo Bills, New York Knicks, Toronto Blue Jays, Montreal Canadiens, Celtic F.C and Everton FC.[10][11][12][13][14]

Helwani became an American citizen on March 8, 2022.[1]


Helwani has covered mixed martial arts professionally since 2006. He worked for MMA Fighting[15] before joining ESPN in May 2018.[16] He formerly served as an "MMA Insider" for Fox Sports 1's weekly UFC Tonight show and other pre- and post-event programming.[17] He is the former co-host of the Sirius XM radio show Fight Club,[4] was formerly the host of The MMA Hour podcast [8][18] and the MMA Beat show on YouTube. He's interim vice president of the Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association.[19]

Previously at ESPN, he hosted a show called Ariel & The Bad Guy with Chael Sonnen, hosted his podcast, and reported on MMA for all ESPN platforms.[16]

UFC 199 controversy / UFC lifetime banEdit

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.[20] 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."[21]

UFC president Dana White 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".[22]

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.[23]

Many high profile UFC fighters sympathised with Helwani. Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones wrote on Twitter "That's unfortunate." Helwani's close friend Daniel Cormier expressed similar sentiment. Former Middleweight champion Chris Weidman said on Twitter "This sport needs the GOAT [slang for Greatest Of All Time] of MMA reporting".[24]

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.[25][26]

Mayweather vs. McGregor banEdit

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."[27]


In June 2018, Helwani joined ESPN from SB Nation's[28] Helwani's employment at ESPN began shortly after ESPN announced their 5-year, $1.5 billion rights package with the UFC.[29] While at ESPN, Helwani hosted Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Twitter and YouTube, "Ariel and the Bad Guy" on ESPN+ and the DC & Helwani podcast. He also contributed to occasional ESPN broadcasts of the NBA.[30]

In June 2021, Helwani announced his departure from ESPN after failing to reach terms on a new contract.[31]

Return of The MMA HourEdit

In June 2021, Helwani announced his return to MMA Fighting and Vox Media as host for The MMA Hour and SB Nation’s MMA Fighting.[32][33] As well as joining BT Sport[34] and The Ringer.[35]

Honors and awardsEdit

Helwani was named "MMA Journalist of the Year" at the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 , 2017, 2018, 2019 World MMA Awards.[36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44]

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".[8]

At the beginning of 2015, Helwani won "2014 Journalist of the Year" in the Awakening WMMA Awards.[45]

He has hosted two separate Helwani Nose Awards events in Chicago and Las Vegas, where current and former MMA fighters participate in a UFC trivia show for the Nose World Order belt.


  1. ^ a b "". Twitter. Retrieved March 8, 2022. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b Ariel Helwani [@arielhelwani] (January 7, 2013). "@misstmartin canadian, but my parents are middle eastern/jewish" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Ariel Helwani [@arielhelwani] (July 5, 2010). "Mom from Lebanon, dad from Egypt. RT @Zee: @arielhelwani random question but curious...are you originally Lebanese? Iraqi? Iranian?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ a b c Lazarus, David. "Montreal native is a mixed martial arts broadcaster", The Canadian Jewish News, January 13, 2011.
  5. ^ PowerfulJRE (August 11, 2015). "Joe Rogan Experience #681 - Gad Saad". YouTube. Retrieved December 30, 2017.[dead YouTube link]
  6. ^ Helwani, Ariel [@arielhelwani] (July 19, 2012). "@Donnie64015 english, french, hebrew and understand spanish and arabic" (Tweet). Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2021 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ "Ariel Helwani". Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c FIGHT! Staff, "The 4th Annual Power 20 Archived December 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine", FIGHT! Magazine, July 2011 issue.
  9. ^ "". Twitter. Retrieved August 29, 2021. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  10. ^ "No Dunks: 1-on-1 | Ariel Helwani on His Beloved Knicks & Why UFC Fighters Can't Shoot Hoops on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  11. ^ Helwani, Ariel [@arielhelwani] (January 22, 2021). "Enough of the promos. This one was from the heart. For all #BillsMafia. I feel like I was speaking for all of us. And I hope I explained my feelings coherently. @BillsDaa @Brother__Bill @DelReid @BuffaloFAMbase @BuffRumblings @MattParrino @BuffaloBills" (Tweet). Archived from the original on August 29, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Helwani, Ariel [@arielhelwani] (September 11, 2019). "Everyone born, Everton bred. And when I die, I'll be Everton ... blue!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on August 29, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Staff, BarDown (March 5, 2021). "UFC 259, working with DC & Chael, the art of interviewing, Leafs/Habs rivalry with Ariel Helwani - Article". BARDOWN. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  14. ^ Helwani, Ariel [@arielhelwani] (October 19, 2016). "Thank you, @BlueJays, for another memorable season. Sad to see it end this way. Congrats, Cleveland. What pitching. Good luck in the WS" (Tweet). Archived from the original on August 29, 2021. Retrieved September 1, 2021 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Ariel Helwani on finding his calling down the road less traveled Archived February 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine", Martyr magazine, January 12, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Dwornik, Ardi (May 16, 2018). "Mixed Martial Arts Insider Ariel Helwani Joins ESPN". ESPN.
  17. ^ "UFC's New Announcing Crew Mostly Impresses". Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  18. ^ "The MMA Hour". Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  19. ^ "There's now an official MMA Journalists Association". Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  20. ^ "6-Time 'MMA Journalist Of The Year' Removed From UFC 199 At Forum, 'Banned For Life'". CBS Los Angeles. Associated Press. June 5, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  21. ^ Bergmann, Mark (June 8, 2016). "Rogan: UFC warned Helwani not to break Lesnar news". Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  22. ^ Robert Redmond. "Dana White Says Ariel Helwani Can Attend UFC 200 One Condition". Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  23. ^ Hale, Andreas (June 6, 2016). "MMA reporter Ariel Helwani opens up about lifetime UFC ban". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  24. ^ "The Real Reason Dana White Had Ariel Helwani Life Banned From UFC Events". June 6, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Mookie Alexander (June 6, 2016). ""Official statement: UFC lifts ban on Ariel Helwani,", by Mookie Alexander,". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  26. ^ Russel Ess (June 6, 2016). "UFC releases statement on Ariel Helwani and team". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  27. ^ Russel Ess (July 11, 2017). "Ariel Helwani removed from working with Showtime for leg of Mayweather vs McGregor tour". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  28. ^ "Ariel Helwani: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Host & Reporter". ESPN Press Room. ESPN Press Room. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  29. ^ "ESPN to broadcast 30 UFC events per year during 5-year deal". ESPN. ESPN. May 23, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  30. ^ "Helwani explains what Raptors' title means to all of Canada". ESPN. ESPN. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  31. ^ Bumbaca, Chris. "MMA reporter Ariel Helwani leaving ESPN after three years". USA TODAY. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  32. ^ "Ariel Helwani is returning to MMA Fighting and The MMA Hour, in addition to new roles with Spotify, BT, and Substack". Awful Announcing. June 21, 2021. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  33. ^ Tucker, Bryan (June 21, 2021). "The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani returns to SB Nation's MMA Fighting". Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  34. ^ "Ariel Helwani To Cover WWE For BT Sport After Exit From ESPN". Wrestlezone. June 21, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  35. ^ "Ariel Helwani is returning to MMA Fighting and The MMA Hour, in addition to new roles with Spotify, BT, and Substack". Awful Announcing. June 21, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  36. ^ Rhodes, Stephen (December 31, 2009). "2009 World MMA Awards - Official Results". Octagon Buzz. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  37. ^ Mrosko, Geno (December 2, 2010). "2010 World MMA Awards Winners and Results". Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  38. ^ "MMA Frenzy". Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  39. ^ Tucker, Bryan (January 11, 2013). "World MMA Awards 2012 Results". MMA Fighting. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  40. ^ "7th Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards winners list". Archived from the original on January 5, 2016.
  41. ^ "Eighth Annual World MMA Awards winners". Archived from the original on May 1, 2017.
  42. ^ "World MMA Awards 2019 Results". MMA Fighting. July 4, 2019. Archived from the original on July 4, 2019.
  43. ^ Tucker, Bryan (July 3, 2018). "World MMA Awards 2018 Results". MMA Fighting. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  44. ^ "Amanda Nunes, Israel Adesanya, Jorge Masvidal pace major winners at World MMA Awards". MMA Junkie. December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  45. ^ "Awakening Fighters WMMA Awards". Retrieved January 7, 2015.

External linksEdit