MMAFighting.com reporter Ariel Helwani and his colleagues Casey Leydon and Esther Lin, who were thrown out of UFC 199 on Saturday night and banned for life after Helwani (accurately) reported that Brock Lesnar was in talks to fight at UFC 200 next month, appear to have had their credentials restored by UFC this evening. UFC released the following statement:
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. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting’s ability to report news. 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.
The UFC seems now to be claiming that its gripe—aside from its thoughtful and nuanced opinions on the purposes of journalism—was that Helwani reported the news about Lesnar without asking them for comment first.
It will be fascinating to watch how Helwani covers UFC and the sport going forward. Earlier today he broadcast an at times surreal two-hour episode of his popular weekly show, The MMA Hour. On it he detailed at length the various slights he’s suffered at UFC’s hands while reporting over the past several years—including tacitly confirming a Twitter rumor that he was once thrown into a wall and choked by UFC security—while also revealing that he was paid directly by UFC’s parent company while he was employed by Fox Sports.