Respected MMA reporter Ariel Helwani will still get to cover the media tour ahead of the much anticipated boxing match between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, he just will no longer be doing it for Showtime Sports, the network slated to air the inaugural event Tuesday.
Schedule to begin at 5 p.m. ET in Los Angeles, Helwani, who writes for MMA Fighting, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he had been removed from the network’s coverage team. The reason, he said, was because the UFC had requested it.
Helwani said he only found out about the decision Tuesday afternoon, but said he still planned to cover the media tour’s events, just not as part of Showtime Sports’ team.
Helwani did not elaborate on the reasoning he believes is behind the UFC’s alleged request to Showtime Sports to remove him. It is well known, however, that UFC and Helwani have a rocky history. Last year, UFC kicked Helwani out of a venue ahead of UFC 199’s main event and revoked his credentials after Helwani reportedly broke two stories against the promotion’s wishes.
Helwani’s ban didn’t last long, however. Two days later, UFC lifted its ban but had some harsh words about its perception of Helwani’s professionalism.
“In our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by [MMA Fighting’s] lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism,” UFC said in a statement that gave no examples of what those tactics might be.
Neither the UFC, Showtime Sports nor Helwani immediately returned The Washington Post’s requests to comment.