After being heavily criticized by media outlets across the world, the UFC has responded and agreed to restore the credentials of MMAFighting.com reporter Ariel Helwani and his colleagues Casey Leydon and Esther Lin. The trio were removed from UFC 199 on Saturday night and banned for life by the company, after Helwani broke news that Brock Lesnar was expected to fight at UFC 200 in July.
Earlier this evening the UFC released the following statement:
“Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent MMAFighting.com from receiving media credentials to cover live UFC events. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting’s ability to report news. However, in our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by its lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism. We feel confident our position has now been adequately communicated to the SB Nation editorial team.”
The grey area in the UFC’s response is that they now claim that their main gripe stems from Helwani not following proper protocol before reporting news. In the past 48 hours, Helwani has publicly acknowledged on his podcast that he performed as a company shill while employed at FOX Sports. He also stated that he is not well liked by UFC management. During an interview with “The Dan Patrick Show” he added that the UFC were behind his dismissal from his television job with FOX Sports.
For now, peace has been reached. It will be interesting though to see how the two sides work together when the next big piece of information lands in Helwani’s lap.