Ariel Helwani: Where Were All These Plugs When I Was at ESPN?


Ariel Helwani has been on a spree of extremely entertaining and candid interviews as he jumps into his post-ESPN future. His conversation last week with Bill Simmons was a fantastic look behind the curtain and he brought the same energy to this morning's The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.

Reflecting on his former network's Saturday night presentation of UFC 264, which featured Conor McGregor continuing to talk trash and threaten Dustin Poirier even as he lay prone on the canvas with a broken leg, Helwani couldn't help but notice some a new trend in broadcast promotion.

"What they did on Saturday, the two shows that I had, with Chael [Sonnen] and D.C. [Daniel Cormier], that I helped build, that I was the one promoting more than anyone, I mean all day incessantly. I never got a single plug in my three years there. A single plug on any type of broadcast for three years. I stopped counting at the seventh plug on Saturday for their two new shows."

Helwani made it clear that Sonnen and Cormier are his brothers and he's supportive of their continued success, but added, "the pettiness, to try to raise those shows because now I'm out ... is laughable to me."

It's been refreshing to hear all of Helwani's true, unvarnished feelings about the state of MMA journalism and the perils of conducting it while working with a broadcast partner. There's clearly been a bit of release on all the stuff building over the previous three years.

ESPN would of course argue that growing all their relevant properties at opportune times is simply good business. So what one person views as pettiness, another could view as an epiphany that could help the bottom line and better late than never.

To all the content creators capable of booking this guy, please let me say: continue to book this guy. He's on a bit of a roll.