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21st Jun 2016

Dana White harshly criticises Ariel Helwani for “weasel move” he pulled at UFC 199

Burning bridges

Ben Kiely

It looks like Ariel Helwani is in Dana White’s bad books for life following UFC 199.

Helwani upset Uncle Dana greatly by breaking the news that Brock Lesnar would be returning for UFC 200 before the promo revealing the big surprise aired.

The incident resulted in Helwani, plus some of his MMA Fighting colleagues who were at UFC 199, being removed from the arena before the main event.

Helwani had his credential taken off him and was issued a lifetime ban from covering the promotion, which has since been lifted.

This reaction backfired massively for the UFC as although the Lesnar and Diaz vs McGregor II announcements were overshadowed by the biggest news story to emerge from the event, the treatment of Helwani.

White spoke about the incident on the UFC Unfiltered podcast with Matt Serra and Jim Norton. He pulled no punches as his criticism of the journalist’s actions.

“It’s like with this whole Ariel Helwani thing. It’s like, ‘What can I sneak and get out and steal from the fans?’ The excitement and enjoyment of the fans seeing it when it comes out, instead of doing some actual real journalism.”

“I know he threw a big ‘pity party’ for himself, but there was a lot more to it. More people were involved in that thing and it almost blew up a huge relationship that I wouldn’t even get into publicly. That’s why we came out with a statement.”

Helwani opened up about his lifetime ban in an episode of the MMA Hour. White took issue with how he handled this, calling the fact that he teared up while talking about the incident “ridiculous”.

“It was dirty, he knows it was dirty. He threw a big pity party for himself. (Cries mockingly) Crying on camera and shit. It’s fucking, just ridiculous.”

“He knows what he did and he did it on purpose. Then he goes on fucking thing and he’s crying and shit. Dude, your kids are going to see that, for Christ’s sakes (sic). You know what I mean, give me a fucking break.”

White explained that he kept the Lesnar announcement under wraps, only informing a select number of people before making it public. He feels that Helwani scooping the promotion on the news not only lessened the enjoyment for the fans, but also nearly destroyed a relationship that was “15 years in the making”.

“We built that promo and a lot of people were quiet about it. It was for the fans. That thing’s for the fans for that ‘wow’ factor for people to go, ‘Oh wow, Brock’s back!’ And the way that he did it had a lot of people pointing fingers at each other.”

“You notice I wasn’t out there putting the belt on Dominick Cruz, then when I ran out to put the belt on Bisping, because I’ve been with Bisping for 10 years, he’s such a great guy, my sleeves were rolled up, I got no jacket on because I’m dealing with the aftermath of the ‘weasel move’ he pulled.”

White closed off his rant by calling Helwani’s journalistic integrity into question. El Presidente hinted that the Canadian wasn’t a real journalist as he was nothing more than a “website guy”.

“Nobody else does that. When you’re a real journalist and you say, ‘Hey, this is the rumour. This is what’s going on and everything else and I’m going to run with it.’ That’s what the real journalists do. He’s a website guy, it’s a totally different world now.”

Jesus Dana, tell us how you really feel.

The whole podcast is worth a listen. You can check it out here.

Noel Furlong crying