Ariel Helwani, MMA reporter, 'banned for life' after scooping Brock Lesnar's UFC return
Montreal-born journalist announced news hours before organization made it official
A reporter's credentials were revoked during a UFC show Saturday after he reported that WWE star and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar was close to fighting again for the organization.
MMAfighting.com's Ariel Helwani, who was born in Montreal, said on Twitter that he was escorted out of the UFC 199 show at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., before the main event. Photographer Esther Lin and video director E. Casey Leydon also had to leave, the reporter said.
I was escorted out of the building by Zuffa staff before the main event. Credential taken away, too. Didn't see Bisping realize his dream.—@arielhelwani
My long-time colleagues <a href="https://twitter.com/ekc">@ekc</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/allelbows">@allelbows</a> were also escorted out of the building w/ me. Sorry to report no post-fight coverage tonight.—@arielhelwani
I love this sport & this job with all my heart. Did nothing unethical. I reported fight news. That's it. & then told we're banned for life.—@arielhelwani
Helwani's story on Lesnar appeared a few hours before the surprising return was made official. During the UFC 199 show, the UFC announced that Lesnar, arguably one of the biggest pay-per-view stars in mixed martial arts, will fight at UFC 200 in Las Vegas on July 9.
He also reported that a rematch between Conor MacGregor and Nate Diaz was in the works hours before the UFC officially announced the fight for UFC 202.
In a statement released Sunday, MMAfighting.com said, "The UFC has not been in contact with us since revoking the credentials of Ariel, Esther and Casey. But we will keep you, our audience, informed of the situation."
UFC spokesman Dave Sholler said the promotion believes that journalists should show professional courtesy by contacting the UFC for comment before reporting a story.
This isn't the first time Helwani has been in trouble with the UFC, with president Dana White calling him out on Twitter last December.
<a href="https://twitter.com/arielhelwani">@arielhelwani</a> you are full of shit and guilty of click baiting too.—@danawhite
Helwani's report ended up being true, and the major fights scheduled for March 5 were confirmed by ESPN and MMAfighting.com just days later.
Helwani was recently removed from his role as a reporter for Fox Sports, the UFC's corporate broadcast partner. He is among the most prominent journalists covering the sport, with more than 368,000 Twitter followers.
White hasn't publicly commented on the decision to ban Helwani. The president didn't attend the post-fight news conference at UFC 199.
Helwani has said he will discuss the matter Monday on his show — the MMA Hour.
With files from CBC Sports