In the opening minutes of his regular show The MMA Hour, Ariel Helwani launched into a superb tirade against the UFC's stripping of Conor McGregor, and the decision to award the belt to Jose Aldo while Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis contest for the interim belt.
From the description above, many would accuse Helwani of simply being biased towards Conor McGregor, and some are lazily making that comparison without hearing what he has said, but if you actually look into what he is upset about, you'll get another example as to why he is one of, if not the most, respected voices in MMA journalism.
Firstly, he believes that the UFC were well within their right to strip McGregor of the title, but he has pointed out just how terribly the organisation handled the situation.
Helwani described the entire ordeal as a "total botch job" and claimed that the UFC do not have faith in their fans to be enthused enough by the very exciting prospect of Pettis vs Holloway, and have done this purely for pay-per-view buys. He outlines how Daniel Cormier's injury directly lead to this decision, and described why that is totally ridiculous, and then goes on to perfectly sum up why Jose Aldo did not deserve to be rewarded for his actions over the past few months.
The problem is the why and the how. The why is a big issue. If Daniel Cormier did not get injured, Monday morning we’re sitting here talking about Conor McGregor as the featherweight champion. Daniel Cormier’s injury should have nothing to do with the featherweight division. So that’s the why. They stripped Conor McGregor because Daniel Cormier got injured, and they needed something to headline this pay-per-view in December in Toronto.
They botched it. They botched it epically. They botched it because if you’re going to go ahead and strip Conor, then Holloway /Pettis needs to be for the real belt, and you say to Jose Aldo that you’re getting the first crack at the champion of this interim title, you’ve been talking about retirement, you’ve been talking about not fighting again, you’ve been talking about throwing fights, we don’t know the state of your career is, so we’re making Holloway/Pettis the real championship fight, because we just stripped the biggest draw and the biggest star of his belt.
It made for a fascinating watch, and if you missed it you can skip to 8:30 in the below video to watch Ariel Helwani give the reasons for his dissatisfaction.
He makes several outstanding points.
In particular, the awarding of the title to Jose Aldo is a baffling decision that undermines the entire featherweight division.
McGregor has maintained his silence of the recent events, but we can't expect that to last for long and when it is broken it should be very interesting to hear what he has to say.