Ariel Helwani, the preeminent journalist in Mixed Martial Arts, has announced that he will be leaving ESPN later this month at the end of his three-year contract.
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Helwani, 38, revealed his news via Instagram on Sunday noting that it was his decision to leave and will end his tenure at the network on Tuesday, June 15th while calling it “an amazing three years”.
The journalist left MMA Fighting in June 2018 to take a role within ESPN right as the network was getting ready to announce its forthcoming relationship as the exclusive home of the UFC in the United States.
Helwani was offered a new contract by ESPN but could explore his options and found “many exciting opportunities” outside of ESPN, which he will reveal at a later date and will conclude “a stressful six-month period”.
During his stay at ESPN, Helwani was one of its featured MMA reporters and the co-host of DC & Helwani with Daniel Cormier and Ariel & The Bad Guy with Chael Sonnen.
In the ten-minute video, Helwani thanked ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro “for having my back”, Vice President of MMA Production Glenn Jacobs, and Senior Coordinating Producer for the NBA on ESPN Tim Corrigan.
Ironically, his announcement occurs exactly five years to the day where he hosted his former show, The MMA Hour, days after he was escorted out of The Forum in Inglewood, California during the UFC 199 event. During the event, Helwani broke the news that Brock Lesnar would be returning at UFC 200 and beat the UFC to its announcement on the pay-per-view broadcast. After being summoned to the back, Helwani was escorted out of the building alongside colleagues Casey Leydon and Esther Lin.
The ban issued by the UFC was quickly rescinded after it became a major news story within sports media and Helwani did several interviews and provided the blow-by-blow on his own show.
After leaving a position at Spike TV, Helwani launched his Jarry Park website in 2007 and would land a job at MMA Rated within one year of the site’s launch and assuming a full-time role with the new outlet.
After the demise of MMA Rated, he would work for AOL-Fanhouse where he launched The MMA Hour (under a different name) in June 2009. The show quickly became the biggest of its kind in MMA with a who’s who of the sport appearing on a regular basis each Monday. After a purchase by Vox Media, MMA Fighting continued to grow with the addition of many of the top reporters within the industry and won numerous awards.
His contract with MMA Fighting ended in June 2018 and he left for ESPN and detailed his decision to exit MMA Fighting when he spoke to POST Wrestling in December 2018.