ESPN has begun to stage up its MMA reporting employees in anticipation of their large streaming partnership with the UFC that kicks off in 2019. The sports activities broadcaster lately revealed a $150 million greenback a yr deal to broadcast 15 UFC occasions a yr on ESPN+ and a great deal of facet programming on all of their platforms. To help with that facet programming, they’ve simply poached six time World MMA Awards Journalist of the Yr Ariel Helwani from VOX Media’s MMA Combating website.
In keeping with a press launch, Helwani will likely be taking up ‘a number of roles at ESPN’ together with on-air reporter for MMA on each ESPN and ESPN+. He’ll even have a weekly present co-hosted by former UFC middleweight and present Bellator open-weight contender Chael Sonnen referred to as ‘Ariel & The Dangerous Man.’
We think about Helwani will play an enormous half in increasing ESPN’s on air protection for the game, which up till now has been carried on the net by Brett Okamoto.
Whereas it’s no shock that ESPN could be trying to decide up some skilled MMA folks, it’s a bit stunning that Helwani would get the nod, given his antagonistic historical past with UFC president Dana White. White has been identified to fly into expletive riddled tirades towards Helwani, and had Ariel fired from FOX Sports activities and a Showtime gig overlaying Mayweather vs. McGregor. Fortuitously for Helwani, we think about ESPN is so much much less more likely to can one in every of their journalists as a result of the folks working the game don’t like him breaking forbidden information.
We’re excited to see all the brand new sorts of reveals and protection ESPN goes to be producing on blended martial arts with Ariel on board. But it surely’s additionally with some unhappiness that we bid adieu to his common tasks with MMA Combating.
What’s going to we do with our Mondays with out his MMA Hour present, which frequently lasted nearer to 5 hours than one? Will we nonetheless get a gradual stream of on location footage and interviews earlier than and after large UFC occasions? It might be a disgrace if ESPN introduced Ariel in and tried to rework him into simply one other sports activities desk speaking head.
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