At UFC 199, as fans were enjoying the show and looking forward to watching the middleweight grudge match between Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping, they were hit with a surprise announcement: Brock Lesnar was making his UFC return after a nearly five-year absence to compete at UFC 200.
However, not all fans were surprised. That is because MMA reporter Ariel Helwani had already broken the big news before it was announced during the broadcast. This infuriated UFC President Dana White to the point that he decided to not only throw Helwani out of the building after his story broke but to ban him from UFC events for life.
That ban was later lifted, but the nature of White & Helwani’s relationship hasn’t changed since that fateful night in 2016, which is that there is no relationship.
“My relationship with Dana is, I would say, non-existent. There is no relationship,” Helwani said on Oral Sessions With Renee Paquette. “It was once supremely close, and good, and healthy, and the kind of relationship that any journalist would want to have with arguably the most powerful person in the sport. Now, I don’t interact with him. We don’t text. We don’t talk on the phone.”
Helwani Has Attempted To Make Amends With White
It has been five years since Helwani and White have spoken, but the reason for that is one-sided. Helwani revealed that he has reached out to White, only to learn that the icy relationship still has not thawed.
“The banning was the last time I spoke to him,” Helwani revealed. “That night when they kicked me out of the arena was the last time I spoke to him. There have been I think just maybe once, twice max but one that I vividly remember where I was sort of not asked but nudged to maybe reach out via text to try to get the lines of communication open. I never got a reply. And so I can make a very strong case that the olive branch should be reached out to me. I’m not worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He is. I have lost money as a result of some decisions that he has made and employment.
“And so I swallowed my pride and said, you know what? For the good of the company, for the good of the relationship, I strongly believe that we only have one life to live. And so why go through that life having any kind of enemy, especially something like this, where I don’t think anyone did…I certainly didn’t do anything wrong, so what’s the point of all this?”
In the end, everything worked out for Helwani. He was able to advance his career by signing with ESPN in 2019 despite the grudge White has with him, and he continues to work to this day. And that Dana White guy is still doing pretty well for himself, too.
Do you think Dana White should pick up the phone and make amends with Ariel Helwani and put an end to his five-year grudge?