MMA reporter Ariel Helwani has criticized former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo for giving in to the demands of his manager.
While mixed martial arts usually sees feuds develop inside the cage and ahead of inevitable meetings between fighters, the athletes aren’t the only figures in the community who can develop animosity.
Canadian journalist Helwani, who’s had his fair share of criticism from the UFC higher-ups and certain fighters, is not in the good books of Dominance MMA Management CEO Ali Abdelaziz.
The Egyptian’s issue with Helwani dates back to pre-UFC 258. Ahead of Gilbert Burns’ title shot against Kamaru Usman, two fighters on Abdelaziz’s roster, the then-ESPN reporter suggested that Leon Edwards was more deserving of the opportunity.
Responding on social media, Abdelaziz “banned” the publication from talking to any fighters under his Dominance banner — a ban that’s evidently carried over to The MMA Hour following Helwani’s ESPN departure.
And Helwani thinks fighters allowing their managers to wield so much control is a bad look.
Helwani: Cejudo Stabbed Me In The Back
During a recent episode of The MMA Hour, featuring Demetrious Johnson, Helwani discussed his feelings towards Henry Cejudo, who is one of the Dominance fighters adhering to the ban imposed by Abdelaziz.
After recalling a moment from when “Triple C” was willing to appear in interviews with him, Helwani suggested that Cejudo “stabbed him in the back” by following his manager’s orders.
“The thing is, Henry, I don’t wanna give myself the old pat on the back, but I kinda helped him along the way, and then he stabbed me in the back,” Helwani said. “I got him the Bella twins, you know the Bella twins? I got him in there, he’s hobnobbing with them, then all of a sudden he stabs me in the back, doesn’t come on the show anymore.
“It’s really ’cause his manager won’t let him come on,” Helwani continued. “Could you imagine? Could you imagine your manager telling you not to come on here and you being like, ‘Yes sir, yes sir.'”
Having heard the blanket ban, which the likes of Usman, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gilbert Burns, Justin Gaethje, and Frankie Edgar have all accepted, “Mighty Mouse” Johnson noted that he’d never agree to such a rule if his manager looked to impose it.
“I would say, ‘No, I’m not.’ I would go on there.” To which Helwani responded, “Yeah, you’re a man.”
It remains to be seen how permanent Abdelaziz’s Helwani veto is, but it’s certainly maintaining its strength and influence two years on.
What do you make of Ariel Helwani’s remarks about Henry Cejudo?