After a tumultuous weekend in mixed martial arts where an MMA reporter being banned became the most talked-about story in the sport, the UFC has had a change of heart.
In a statement released by the UFC, MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani – who was escorted out of UFC 199 in Los Angeles and subsequently slapped with a lifetime ban after correctly reporting that Brock Lesnar was returning to the MMA world at UFC 200 – will be able to apply for UFC credentials again.
“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,” the statement read. “We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting’s ability to report news.”
Helwani was first to report the surprising story that Lesnar would be returning after a four-and-a-half year hiatus from the sport before the UFC had the opportunity to announce it during the broadcast. Helwani, along with videographer E. Casey Leydon and photographer Esther Lin, were sent out of The Forum moments before the main event where Michael Bisping scored a first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold to claim the UFC middleweight title.
Bisping’s big victory after being a massive underdog should have been the story of the weekend. However, Helwani’s ban caused a commotion and everything else took a back seat. Many journalists came to Helwani’s aid while the reporter did his rounds in the media in an attempt to explain what transpired. Earlier Monday, Helwani addressed his rocky relationship with the UFC on his show, “The MMA Hour.”
Hours after the show aired, the UFC had a change of heart, but made sure to note that it wasn't fond of Helwani’s “tactics."
“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.”
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