Famed MMA journalist Ariel Helwani departed ESPN earlier this year after his contract with the company expired, but now that arguably the most powerful figure in MMA journalism is able to speak openly about his time there, Helwani has decided to let loose about ESPN.
During his Monday morning appearance on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” on YouTube, Helwani blasted ESPN for offering him too little money to return, for running promos on the two MMA shows that used to feature Helwani but will now feature other stars instead, and for using “sad-sack fake journalists” to cover UFC events.
You can watch Helwani rant against his former employer below.
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Helwani: ‘I’m Worth A Lot More Than They Offered’
Helwani didn’t like the offer he says he received to continue his career with ESPN.
“I don’t want anyone to think that ESPN, you know, fired me, or didn’t extend any contract. They did. Of course, it wasn’t what I was hoping for, and you can come up with your own type of theory as to why they extended the offer they extended. I think I’m worth a lot more than they offered, and I’m out to prove it,” Helwani said.
So when he saw ESPN running advertisements for his two old ESPN shows, “DC & Helwani” and “Ariel & The Bad Guy” during the UFC 264 pay-per-view, he took it personally.
“I’ll just add, you know, the pettiness knows no bounds. The real estate, as they say in Las Vegas, I hear is pretty good these days. For Ariel Helwani, and I’ll talk to myself here in the third person, it’s rent-free,” Helwani said.
Helwani claimed the promos for “DC & RC” and “The Chael Sonnen Show w/Jorge Sedano” were personal attacks.
“Because what they did on Saturday, the two shows that I had with Chael [Sonnen] and [Daniel Cormier], that I helped build, that I was the one who was promoting more than anyone, anyone. I mean, all day incessantly, I never got a single plug in my three years there, a single plug, on any type of broadcast, any type of broadcast, for three years,” Helwani said.
Heck, he even seems to have taken Cormier’s praise of Max Kellerman’s work at UFC 264 on Saturday night personally.
Cormier posted, “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my guy @maxkellerman absolutely crushed that Mcgregor feature. It’s big night in Vegas folks!!!!!”
Helwani likened that to getting stabbed in the back with an arrow.
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Helwani Saw Ads as Evidence of ESPN Trying to Hurt His Career
Helwani said ESPN never ran similar ads for the shows when he was featured.
“I…I stopped counting at the seventh plug on Saturday for their two new shows, and I love DC and Chael Sonnen, like they’re my brothers. I will literally go in front of a car for those guys. They are the most loyal friends, but the pettiness to try and raise those shows because now I’m out, to try to put me down, because now I’m out, to try to continue to hurt me, to put roadblocks in front of me, because I’m out, is laughable to me,” Helwani said.
When questioned about the veracity of that report, Helwani claimed to be insulted.
He said, “It’s always a shoot, brother. And yes, for the third time, it’s accurate. It’s actually insulting that you are questioning this but I still love you anyway.”
Helwani finished his rant by blasting ESPN for sending “sad-sack fake journalists” to cover UFC events.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to continue to cover this sport. I’m going to keep doing it the right way and the fair way, and they can bring their parade of sad-sack fake journalists to their events all day long to do whatever they want to do,” Helwani said.
He also said he wouldn’t let any of the various ways he sees ESPN trying to sabotage get in his way.
“I’ll be fine with all the people I’m working for: Fox, Ringer, Spotify, Substack, BT Sport, I’ll be just fine. I’m not going anywhere,” Helwani said.
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