Famed journalist Ariel Helwani is arguably the most acclaimed MMA pundit in the world, but that doesn’t mean the ESPN stalwart has a good relationship with UFC president Dana White. In fact, it doesn’t mean Helwani has any kind of relationship with White at all. Helwani recently appeared on the “Oral Sessions with Renée Paquette” podcast and revealed to Paquette the current status of his relationship with White.
“My relationship with Dana is, I would say non-existent, there is no relationship. It was once supremely close and good and healthy and the kind of relationship that any journalist would want to have with arguably the most powerful person in the sport. Now, I don’t interact with him, we don’t text, we don’t talk on the phone, and what I have often said to people is that it doesn’t necessarily bother me,” Helwani said.
Later in the same interview, Helwani blamed White for “messing with” his livelihood. He said, “…I have lost money as a result of some decisions that he has made”.
You can watch the segment below.
— The Volume (@TheVolumeSports) May 11, 2021
Helwani is arguably the most powerful media person in the UFC. He is one of the lead faces for the UFC’s television partner ESPN, and the guest list of his various shows on ESPN and its social media channels has the hottest and most crowded guest list in the sport.
He’s nearing 1 million followers on Twitter, and his name and face have become synonymous with the UFC.
In the podcast, Helwani said he “would love to have a great relationship” with White but also suggested he could also live without him.
White banned Helwani and kicked him out of UFC 199 in 2016 when the writer worked for MMA Fighting. He was later told he was banned from all future UFC events, but the company reversed the ban a short time later.
Helwani talked on the podcast about being banned and how he and White have never actually spoken about it.
“The one part that has always made me a little uncomfortable is like you know messing with my livelihood, that’s a different story…The banning was the last time I spoke to him; That night when they kicked me out of the arena was the last time I spoke to him…”, Helwani said.
Helwani said he tried to reach out to White to discuss the situation, but he never got any word back from White.
“I vividly remember where I was sort of, not asked, but nudged to reach out via text to try to get the lines of communication open, but I never got a reply. So, you know I can make a very strong case that the olive branch should be reached out to me. You know, I’m not worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He is. I have lost money as a result of some decisions that he has made,” Helwani said.
Regardless, Helwani does not consider White his enemy.
“I strongly believe that we only have one life to live and so why go through that life having any kind of enemies, especially something like this?’”, Helwani said.
Of course, judging by how large both figures remain to be in the sport today and the fact that White is still ghosting him, the same might not hold true the other way.
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