Veteran mixed martial arts journalist Ariel Helwani is leaving SB Nation’s MMA Fighting website with the announcement that he is joining ESPN.
The deal was announced Thursday with Helwani set to host “The Ariel Helwani MMA Show” at his new home, as well as an additional 30-minute weekly show with Chael Sonnen on ESPN+ along with Helwani providing news coverage on ESPN’s on-air and digital outlets.
After launching his own blog at JarryPark.com, Helwani worked for several outlets, before joining AOL Fanhouse, which later became MMA Fighting. It was at AOL / MMA Fighting that Helwani launched “The MMA Hour” program in 2009, which has become the most popular mixed martial arts program in the space.
Helwani has been named MMA’s Journalist of the Year on six occasions at the World MMA Awards and is nominated for this year’s award.
In June 2016, Helwani was at the center of controversy after he and his MMA Fighting colleagues were escorted out of the UFC 199 event in Inglewood, California. The removal followed a story broken by Helwani regarding Brock Lesnar’s return to the promotion, which was reported before the UFC’s announcement on the broadcast. Several days later amidst pressure, the UFC reversed its position on revoking MMA Fighting’s credentials to future events.
Helwani’s final edition of “The MMA Hour” will be Monday, June 11th and his new show will be airing each Monday.