Ariel Helwani Lands ESPN Deal, Will Co-Host Show With Chael Sonnen

Longtime mixed martial arts journalist Ariel Helwani has locked in a position with ESPN. Now the reporter will be parting ways with MMA Fighting to join the highly coveted sports network.

Among his many responsibilities as a new ESPN member, Helwani will host his own show “Ariel & The Bad Guy” on ESPN+ and his own podcast “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.” Check out ESPN’s official press release down below:

Award-winning mixed martial arts (MMA) journalist and host Ariel Helwani will join ESPN in June to cover the MMA world. Helwani will have several roles at ESPN, including: co-host of “Ariel & The Bad Guy,” a new weekly MMA program on ESPN+; host of ongoing podcast “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show” and reporter for MMA across ESPN digital media and television platforms.

Helwani joins ESPN from SB Nation’s MMAFighting.com. He has been covering MMA professionally since 2006, is a seven-time winner of “MMA Journalist of the Year” at the World MMA Awards and a previous contributor to MMA coverage for Fox Sports. Born in Montreal, Canada, he is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Helwani said, “For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to work at ESPN. I know the term ‘dream come true’ is often overused, but this is truly that for me. Growing up in Montreal we didn’t get ESPN, but any time my family would travel down south I would stay in our hotel room as long as possible watching the morning SportsCenter on loop. I’ve loved all things ESPN since I was a kid, and in all honesty, it still feels a bit surreal that I am joining the gold standard in sports media. I couldn’t be more excited to get started and am extremely thankful for the opportunity.”

“Ariel and The Bad Guy” will team Helwani with professional fighter and ESPN MMA analyst, Chael Sonnen, for a fast-paced 30-minute weekly breakdown of the top stories, developments and upcoming fights. New episodes will be available on ESPN+ each Wednesday, beginning June 20, and there will be special episodes before and after major mixed martial arts events.

Rob King, ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Original Content, Newsgathering & Digital Media, said: “Ariel is a dynamic and talented insider, whose insights and acumen will expand and enhance our multimedia coverage of the mixed martial arts world. Pairing Ariel and Chael, the insider and the fighter, on ESPN+ is going to make for an energetic and engaging show that will be must-see for any MMA fan.”

On teaming with Helwani for their new show, Chael Sonnen said: “I’m pumped. Fans are going to love the show Ariel and I are doing. And like they say… You can’t spell MMA on ESPN without C-H-A-E-L! Ummmmm… Wait a sec….”

Ariel Helwani has since taken to social media to share his response to the news with the rest of the world. Check out what Helwani had to say over Instagram within the social media message below:

“I’m thrilled to share the news that I’m joining @espn next month. For as long as I can remember, this has been a dream of mine. It’s honestly hard to put into words how much this means to me. Thank you very much @espn for this opportunity. It is an honor to join the very talented team already in place.

“I remember watching the channel(s) as a kid and dreaming of someday working there. I still can’t quite believe this is coming true. I’ll truly miss working with my colleagues at @mmafightingdotcom. Every single staff member is a phenomenal journalist and an even better person. I made friends for life there and will always cherish our time together.

“It’s been an incredible nine-year run, and I can’t thank Jim, Kevin and Bryan enough for everything they did for me and my family. I gave everything I had to the site and will continue to support them from afar. Thank you Matt and Nick for your help and support in making this happen. And, most importantly, thanks to you, the great fans of this sport, for always supporting my work through all the ups and downs.

“From Jarry Park to now ESPN, what a fun ride it’s been. We’ve had what I consider to be a special bond for over a decade, and I hope it will remain this way for many years to come. I appreciate your loyalty more than you’ll ever know and hope you believe me when I tell you this dream doesn’t come to fruition without that loyalty. Thank you again. I can’t wait to get started.”

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