Ariel Helwani, host of The MMA Hour, is the most respected journalist in Mixed Martial Arts, and the quality of his work is borne out by the fact that it routinely pisses off Dana White and those at the head of the UFC.
In June 2016, Helwani was "banned for life" by the organisation ahead of UFC 199. He was escorted from the arena during that event, and had his media credentials revoked.
Helwani has a talent for breaking big stories ahead of the official announcements made by the organisation, and the ban followed Helwani's revelations that the rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor had been set for UFC 202 on 20 August and report that a sensational return to MMA for former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar was on the cards for 9 July at UFC 200.
That ban was lifted a couple of days later, and Helwani was allowed back to work.
More controversy erupted yesterday, however, as Helwani revealed on Twitter that the UFC had directly intervened to block his appearing on Showtime during the first of the press events featuring Mayweather and McGregor.
Not working for @SHOsports anymore on the May/Mac tour. Just learned UFC specifically asked to have me removed. Incredibly disappointed.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 11, 2017
Helwani appeared on Off The Ball this evening, and addressed what happened:
This was a massive opportunity to be part of it on the broadcasting side of things, so to say I was excited is a massive understatement. Two hours after the Red Eye from New Tork to LA, they asked to meet with me. They said that Dana White said that, under no terms, could I be involved with it. He wasn't budging on that.
I was under the impression that cooler heads had prevailed [after the ban last year]. I don't have much of a working relationship with him anymore, but I'm very surprised he would do something like this.
This, for me, was on another level. It was an opportunity to further my career, make big money for my career: a dream come true. So for him to do that is incredibly disappointing. But I will not relent, I'm still credentialed, so I'll continue to do my job. I'm not going to let his pettiness ruin this.
When asked whether he hoped the presence of boxing journalists would lead to Helwani's silencing becoming an issue, this was his response:
Yeah, I don't know, and I'm not going to urge anyone to do that on my behalf. Last year was different, they had banned me for life, but to take away a work opportunity... It's the second time he has done this, I used to do work for Fox and he had me taken off the air because of what I was reporting on, and it was never anything inaccurate, unfair, below-the-belt or salacious, just the day-to-day reporting - the word petty comes to mind.
The man is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, he is set for life, his kids are set for life, and he tried to stop me from making a living. I don't back down in these situations. So if he thinks he's going to get rid of me this easily, he's wrong.
I hope someday we can repair the relationship, and get back to how we were, and move past this. I understand that I'm a journalist, and I can't make this personal. He has made this personal, he has taken an opportunity away from me and my family, but I have to continue to cover the UFC and Dana White as fairly as possible, and that's what I'll continue to do.
Listen to the full interview on the Newstalk website.