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Ariel Helwani Says He Doesn’t Want Career ‘Messed With’ By UFC

“To this day, Helwani still thanks those prominent media figures for being very vocal about the UFC’s ban of him and getting his story into the mainstream media.”

Ricky Keeler

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Lately, ESPN’s lead UFC reporter, Ariel Helwani, has been in the news for his thoughts on what former MMA fighter Gina Carano had to say in terms of viewing her political thoughts to how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany, as well as UFC President Dana White’s response to what he had to say.

More headlines were made when Helwani received support from a former ESPN colleague in Dan Le Batard.

This week, Helwani was on the That’s What She Said podcast with Sarah Spain in an interview that was recorded at the beginning of February. While this topic was not addressed due to timing, Spain took her listeners into how Helwani has become what he is today. 

Helwani told Spain that support from his colleagues was nothing new. He was banned by the UFC in 2016 after reporting at UFC 199 that Brock Lesner was going to come out of retirement. Helwani was working for MMAFighting.com at the time, but said media outlets far bigger than that picked up on his story and the story of his banishment.

“That night, I go to my hotel room and pack my bags and take a super early flight back home,” Helwani said on the podcast. “I will never forget buying the WI-FI and going on my Twitter app and seeing a flood of retweets from really famous people and people I look up to. I looked up to Dan Le Batard. I didn’t think he knew who I was and there is a DM asking if I can come on his show on Monday.”

He ended up getting another call from Scott Van Pelt to come on SportsCenter. He also made appearances on The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show to talk about his banning. In fact, he was on the set of SportsCenter when he got word that UFC had reversed course on their decision.

To this day, Helwani still thanks those prominent media figures for being very vocal about the UFC’s ban of him and getting his story into the mainstream media. He said without that, he would not be where he is today.

“By the way, those journalists (Dan Patrick, Dan Le Batard, Rich Eisen, Rachel Nichols, Frank Isola). If they did not stick up for me, I am not talking to you as an ESPN journalist. They saved my career, those people, because they took that story outside of the MMA bubble, so I will always be indebted to those individuals.” 

As Helwani told Spain, covering the UFC is not easy because writers can be banned and he even said that the league still does not help him with much, yet he still finds a way to get the job done and successfully.

“At the end of the day, I just want to be able to do the job,” Helwani said noting that he has been told many times that a fighter’s schedule is too full to accommodate his interview requests. “I don’t want my livelihood to be messed with. I think the fans are smart. They see what’s messed up.”

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The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz Moving To New Studio

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021.

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Dan Le Batard Show

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is leaving its home at the Clevelander hotel on South Beach in Miami and moving into a new studio next year, according to a report from The Big Lead.

The show continued to be recorded inside the studio at the Clevelander after it departed ESPN Radio’s national lineup in 2021. It has remained the home for the show since Le Batard and John Skipper formed Meadowlark Media.

After a $50 million distribution deal with DraftKings was secured, the Meadowlark podcast network has grown in both reach and talent, allowing for an expanded studio space.

No immediate details were given on where the new studio space would be located.

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NSMA Announces Finalists for Awards, Hall of Fame

Final voting for the statewide and national awards, as well as for the Hall of Fame, will take place throughout this month, and the winners and inductees will be announced on January 9.

Jordan Bondurant

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The National Sports Media Association revealed its finalists for its national sportscaster of the year and national sportswriter of the year, and there are plenty of heavy hitters in the industry up for consideration for the NSMA awards.

Among the nominees for National Sportscaster of the Year include Al Michaels, Ian Eagle, Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, Kevin Harlan, and Mike Tirico. The full list includes Adam Amin, Jason Benetti, Joe Davis, and Mina Kimes.

For National Sportswriter of the Year, Adrian Wojnarowski, Ken Rosenthal, Nicole Auerbach, Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and Tom Verducci are among the biggest names. Candace Buckner, Katie Strang, Marc Spears and Wright Thomson round out the list of nominees.

The NMSA also revealed its finalists for the sportscaster and sportswriter Hall of Fame. James Brown, Joe Buck, Lee Corso and Tim McCarver are part of the sportscaster list, while Bill Plaschke and Ray Didinger appear among the names for the sportswriter hall of fame.

Final voting for the statewide and national awards, as well as for the Hall of Fame, will take place throughout this month, and the winners and inductees will be announced on January 9.

Winners and Hall of Famers will be honored at the NSMA Awards Weekend & National Convention held in Winston-Salem, N.C. June 24-26.

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Pat McAfee: Mentioning Brett Favre Scandal Is A Must

“We have to make sure that it’s mentioned every time that man is mentioned because that is a big deal that it happened.”

Jordan Bondurant

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While things may have quieted down a little bit with Brett Favre and his scandal involving misuse of public funds in Mississippi, Pat McAfee is going to make sure people don’t forget what the hall of fame quarterback is accused of.

On his show on Wednesday, McAfee said he thought of a way to mention the situation during Aaron Rodgers’ weekly appearance the day before. Rodgers in conversation talked about learning under Favre in the first years of his NFL career in Green Bay.

“My brain was literally like we’re in the holiday season. Brett Favre – what did he do,” McAfee said. “He didn’t just steal from the poor. Oh, he is the actual Sticky Finger Bandits from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”

Pat added that whenever the name Brett Favre is brought up on his show, it is absolutely necessary to remind folks about the scandal.

“We have to make sure that it’s mentioned every time that man is mentioned because that is a big deal that it happened,” he said. “Now obviously Brett Favre Enterprises is alleging that this is all wrong. And I can’t wait to hear BFE to drop Brett Favre Enterprises’ side of the story. And we will judge it accordingly.”

“Even though as a football player, he was an incredibly tough football player, good football player, did a lot of things,” McAfee added. “Certainly in the middle of stealing from poor people in Mississippi right now. Have to chat about that.”

Favre is yet to be charged with any crimes, but the state is currently investigating the matter. Early in the fall, Favre’s weekly appearances on local and national radio shows were halted in light of the initial fallout from the story.

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