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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

UFC relents on credentials, complains about Ariel Helwani’s ‘tactics’ in troubling statement

Ariel Helwani

The UFC on Monday night relented on its rash decision to revoke the credentials of three members of the website and said in a statement the site would be approved for credentials.

However, in their statement on the matter, the UFC shared some extremely troubling wording and thinking that still should have many concerned about their controlling tactics.

Here is the statement they issued:

Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent 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.

UFC’s goal as the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion is to cultivate interest in its world-class athletes and events, and deliver for the fans. We will continue to introduce this sport and its athletes to new fans across the world, and we will do so by working alongside media across all platforms.

The UFC made the statement to essentially announce they were wrong in taking such extreme measures. Yet in their statement they complain about the lead reporter (Ariel Helwani) and his “tactics.”

What this comes down to is the UFC is upset Helwani keeps breaking major fight news before the company wants it public and not in the matter they want it disseminated. On Saturday alone, Helwani beat the UFC to its announcements about Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz’s rematch for UFC 202, and more importantly, about Brock Lesnar’s return to the UFC.

The UFC has likely arranged deals with ESPN and other outlets about providing them with exclusive news and scoops, so they are angered when reporters spoil it. But that is just part of what happens when you run a major sports league that is covered by the media; some will get scoops and spoil news announcements as Helwani has done. He doesn’t need the UFC’s permission to report news if he has it; he is wholly within his right as a report to report it. The UFC needs to adjust to that reality, but they are unwilling to because they are used to controlling the message and bullying/intimidating reporters.

Since Helwani and two other members of MMA Fighting’s team were kicked out of the UFC 199 event in Inglewood prior to the main event, it has become publicized that the UFC has long banned different reporters or outlets. One such reporter is Josh Gross, who was formerly of Sherdog and then worked for ESPN. He shared some information on what led to his ban by the UFC.

With this incident being so high-profile since it involved Helwani, the public pressure forced the UFC to cave and change its behavior. Hopefully there will continue to be more pressure applied to them so they act in more reasonable manners in the future.


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