Ariel Helwani is without question the most recognized journalist in the MMA media. For over a decade, he has been a leading source in breaking news, long-form interviews, and yes, the occasional beef.
When it comes to said beef, his arch nemesis over the years has undoubtedly been UFC President Dana White. The feud began and/or became public prior to UFC 200, when Helwani was the first to report that Brock Lesnar would be competing on that historic card despite White intending to keep that news under wraps until the promotion made the announcement.
Since then, Helwani claims White has continued to hold a grudge and has even tried to sabotage his career for several years now. With this in mind, it came as no surprise to Helwani that White was trashing him in an interview this week. What did catch him offguard, however, was rising UFC star Paddy Pimblett leading the berating brigade.
Earlier today, we ran a story of Pimblett and White completely lambasting Helwani, branding him a “rat” and a “piece of shit” among other unflattering labels. Aside from the insults, there were also accusations that were made from the two gentlemen.
For starters, Dana White stated that Helwani is now completely irrelevant ever since being fired from ESPN. But it was Pimblett who was the most gung-ho in his Helwani browbeating, accusing Helwani of profiting off of fighters without paying them for interviews and being a fake journalist.
Within hours of the story circulating the MMA media, Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour program streamed live on YouTube. And right at the very top of the show, Helwani issued an extensive response to both White and Pimblett along with compelling evidence and receipts in tow.
Ariel Helwani Counters “Liars” Paddy Pimblett & Dana White With Receipts
In Helwani’s response on his “On The Nose” segment, he began by mostly dismissing White’s insults.
This, the journalist states, is because he has grown immune to them over the years and that White’s criticism lacked both substance and an adult vocabulary. What “Heelwani” did not do, however, is sweep Pimblett’s remarks under the rug.
Quite the contrary, Helwani would even read aloud alleged text messages from Pimblett and his manager, Graham Boylan, in an attempt to prove that Pimblett was being untruthful.
In addition to sharing an audio message from Pimblett and reading aloud alleged text messages between them, he also made sure to point out that he has always supported Pimblett, even before he was in the UFC.
“And yeah, I’ll say this, maybe you could say I talk too much about the UFC. Maybe I don’t talk enough about the LFAs, maybe I don’t talk enough about the KSWs, maybe I don’t talk about the quote unquote ‘regional promotions.’ It’s because there’s enough UFC, PFL, Bellator stuff out there,” Helwani said. “If there’s one guy, if there’s one guy you could say I’ve been talking about long before he was even on the UFC radar, it’s Paddy Pimblett! That’s what’s so crazy about this whole story! This guy was on the show back in the day when he was several fights away from a UFC fight. There aren’t a lot of those guys.
“Like, you could say, yeah, I jumped on the [Israel Adesanya] bandwagon late. I got him after his UFC debut. I jumped on the Conor [McGregor] bandwagon late, right before his UFC debut. You could say that about the vast majority of people that come on this show. Not him! I was talking about him well before he even made it to the UFC because I was interested in him, because he had this magnetic personality, because he was fun, he had a cool name, a cool look, a cool accent, a fun style, back when no one was talking about him, at least not on shows like this.”
It was at this point that Helwani rolled a clip from 2018 where he interviewed Pimblett and told him that he’s only getting love on The MMA Hour, with Pimblett himself admitting that Americans didn’t yet know of him or appreciate him.
After the clip concluded, Helwani commented on the irony of Pimblett’s claim that he (Helwani) is profiting off fighters while speaking to someone who is literally profiting off of fighters (Dana White) disproportionately.
Helwani then implied that this was the real impetus behind Pimblett’s criticisms: to get in good graces with his boss, who has made no secret of his contempt toward the reporter.
Helwani then harkened back to when the producers of his audio podcast did not want Pimblett on the show in 2019 because he was not in the UFC and was only some ‘Cage Warriors guy.’ Yet, Helwani stuck up for Pimblett in order to ‘get him some shine’ and ‘back him’ regardless.
Helwani: Paying For Interviews Isn’t Real Journalism
Perhaps the biggest talking point from Helwani’s response was addressing Pimblett’s claim that Helwani refused to pay him for an interview. To this, Helwani made several points:
- He does not make a dime off of interviews or clicks because he has a contract at a fixed salary
- Never in his entire 15-16 year career as a journalist has anyone even hinted at being paid for an interview, including the biggest names in the sport, i.e. Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre, and the Diaz brothers
- Read aloud alleged text exchanges between the two parties (Helwani and Pimblett/Pimblett’s manager) regarding the mix-up and bewilderment regarding the concept of interview pay
- Pimblett’s manager, Graham Boylan, went to Instagram immediately to encourage fighters to request to be paid for their time in interviews. This Instagram message was screenshot and was said to be one day after Helwani’s conversation with him on the subject.
In Pimblett’s rebuke of Helwani, he specifically cited BT Sport as the company Helwani was working for when Helwani refused to pay him in spite of the Scouser already allegedly having paid interview commitments scheduled.
To this, Helwani played back an audio message that was allegedly from Pimblett himself that Helwani said was from October 2021. The following is what was said in the audio message:
“Yo, yo, the big fella. What’s going down, Ariel? Just thought to let you know, lad, if you want to say hi or do anything with me, man, I’ll be in NYC in November. I think I’m gonna be there from the 3rd to the 6th, and then I’ll be coming back again on the 17th or the 18th, and then I’ll be coming back to Liverpool on the 23rd. So I’m about in New York on two separate occasions in case you want to see your mate, you know what I’m saying?”
Helwani used this message to illustrate that it was Pimblett who reached out to him to meet up for the interview in the first place. He then went on to use the biggest media figures as examples of people who do not pay their guests: Joe Rogan, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, etc.
In fact, Helwani states that the entire situation with Pimblett and his management escalated when Helwani asked Pat McAfee if he’d ever experienced someone requesting to be paid to be interviewed, to which McAfee responded emphatically in the negative.
Helwani would later call on any fighter or manager to back Pimblett’s claim that Helwani offers fighters to come on his program for “exposure,” which the journalist insists is another lie.
In the closing moments of his oral dissertation, after warning listeners not to tell falsehoods about him and ‘shoot at the king’ whilst missing, “Heelwani” would issue the following message directly to Pimblett:
“Don’t lie. You’re a role model to a lot of people. You put out this thing today about anti-bullying — some foundation, some charity. Feels to me there was a little bit of bullying going on in that clip.”
Helwani would then state that despite Pimblett’s “lies,” he still supports Pimblett, wishes him all the best, and would be willing to patch things up if “The Baddy” were to make nice and reach out to repair the relationship.
Watch Ariel Helwani’s Full Response To Paddy Pimblett & Dana White
Ariel Helwani’s full response to Paddy Pimblett and Dana White ran for over one hour, with Dana White catching some of the shrapnel from the journalist along the way.
Helwani made sure to address the narrative that he was fired from ESPN, something that both White and Pimblett claimed during the interview. Helwani has always maintained that it was his decision to decline ESPN’s offer, and he also shared the following tweet from ex-ESPN staff member Andrew Marchand, dated June 6, 2021.
“We thank Ariel for his many contributions to ESPN’s MMA coverage and beyond. We had hoped to have him continue in that role and made him an offer to remain with ESPN. He chose to explore new opportunities, and we wish him the best.”
But perhaps the most notable retort towards White was Helwani pointing out that not only is he still very much relevant and not a failure despite White’s assertion otherwise, but that if anything, everything White has attempted without the backing of the Fertitta’s and the UFC has been a colossal disaster, i.e. Zuffa boxing among other projects.
To listen to every detail of Helwani’s response, including each alleged text exchange and other receipts, you would be best served to listen to the entirety of “Heelwani’s” response below, which staff members of The MMA Hour deemed to be a resounding 10-6, with a consenting 10-7 scorecard in favor of the journalist over the White-Pimblett duo.
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