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Lampa
11/06/2011 9:05pm,
So, tonight I was at NYU for the New York premiere of the documentary Fightville, which was actually fantastic in its own right and I will be publishing a positive review in the next couple of days.

But, I will admit, I had more interest it what was scheduled to happen after the movie: a panel discussion on the sanctioning of MMA in New York featuring Ariel Helwani.

Now, Ariel is the single most visible perpetrator of a piece of fiction posted as MMA news, which blames union activity for the lack of MMA sanctioning in New York.

As some of you already know, I've been running journalistic point on the sanctioning process since January 2009 and am probably the most well versed person around on this one very specific topic. And the whole "blame the unions" thing just did not jive with any of my extensive research.

I've contacted Helwani both privately and publicly about this to share my evidence to the contrary. Then, finally, I published an open letter to Dana White the summarized all of my findings that I can prove along with my reasoning for why blaming the unions hurts the cause. This letter can be found here-

http://uscombatsports.com/index.php?option=com_flexicontent&view=items&cid=241&id=9228&Itemid=336

I know for a fact that Helwani has not only read my messages to him but the contents of that article. So, what does he do tonight?

He blames the unions. Everything that I can and have proven to him as false he just regurgitated because he doesn't want to make waves with his masters.

Then things got worse. He proceeded to, in front of several members in the Coalition to Legalize MMA in New York, tell the crowd that the fans can't do anything to impact the political situation, actively discouraging any effort to get MMA sanctioned in New York that is not headed by a Zuffa initiative.

Then, miraculously, everyone present in the press core who was in a position to take Helwani to task was passed over when it came time for audience response. I know for a fact that Ariel had a say over the contents of the panel and strongly suspect that they were given instructions not to let the press ask questions.

So, he continues a fiction he knows is false that harms all people in the local MMA business. Then he spits in the face of the efforts fans have put in to do something. And then he makes sure he doesn't have to answer for any of it, so he could go into the hall and sign a fucking autograph.

Normally I would just let this all slide, put pen to paper, and find a way to combat the fiction next time. I have always given Helwani a pass on this blatant disregard for the truth and harm of his fellow New Yorkers in the MMA scene because he is a great interview artist with access which allows good information to go out to the public.

But this is too fucking far. In my life there was only one other time I have been so close to assaulting someone, and that other story ends with "fortunately, no charges were filed."

He willfully insults the pursuit of the truth that journalism is supposed to be about. He willfully harms the local athletes that, in spite of my efforts to stay neutral, I really do care about them succeeding. And he doesn't even have the sack to stand up for his lies.

I felt like I was watching him smack my mother on stage. That's what it felt like hearing him harm the local sport, a strike at my family. And, quite frankly, I don't know what I'm going to do about it yet. The only weapon I have is the truth and that's one that requires very close range and careful aim. But I wasn't getting to sleep tonight until I said something.

Tom Kagan
11/06/2011 10:10pm,
He blames the unions. Everything that I can and have proven to him as false he just regurgitated because he doesn't want to make waves with his masters.

Then things got worse. He proceeded to, in front of several members in the Coalition to Legalize MMA in New York, tell the crowd that the fans can't do anything to impact the political situation, actively discouraging any effort to get MMA sanctioned in New York that is not headed by a Zuffa initiative.

Then, miraculously, everyone present in the press core who was in a position to take Helwani to task was passed over when it came time for audience response. I know for a fact that Ariel had a say over the contents of the panel and strongly suspect that they were given instructions not to let the press ask questions.



And, quite frankly, I don't know what I'm going to do about it yet. The only weapon I have is the truth and that's one that requires very close range and careful aim.

Follow the money.

Sam Browning
11/06/2011 10:45pm,
Do you think Ariel would be willing to come here to discuss, argue, debate, this matter?

Tom Kagan
11/06/2011 10:55pm,
Do you think Ariel would be willing to come here to discuss, argue, debate, this matter?

Only if Zuffa has final say over the contents of the debate thread.

Lampa
11/07/2011 1:58am,
Considering that he was quite unwilling to discuss this in a public forum earlier this evening, and also the fact that I lost my cool and shouted that he was a lying, parrot-shaped, mother fucker after it became abundantly clear that there was no honest debate to be had, my guess is no.*

The funny thing is if Zuffa would just hire him so he could stop pretending to be a journalist he'd be a great press agent and give real journalists a good point of communication.

*I openly admit this was not the best way to go about. I think some people who knew me there were a little shocked given my tendency to be entirely stone-faced at anything and everything.

Hiro Protagonist
11/07/2011 5:50am,
Hey Lampa,

Would you care to elaborate the affair in a way that occasional readers can understand?

I occasionally listen to Helwani's radio show, and it doesn't seem to me that he is a Zuffa muppet.

Also, why would he be interested in preventing or delaying the legalization of MMA in NY by making false statements?

WhiteShark
11/07/2011 9:39am,
Zuffa is anti-union and has a current union dispute through their hotel operations. Casting blame for MMA legalization on unions hurts unions. Zuffa wants to weaken unions. Especially unions they may have to work with when MMA is legalized in NY.

Lampa
11/07/2011 9:56am,
Hey Lampa,

Would you care to elaborate the affair in a way that occasional readers can understand?

I occasionally listen to Helwani's radio show, and it doesn't seem to me that he is a Zuffa muppet.

Also, why would he be interested in preventing or delaying the legalization of MMA in NY by making false statements?

Well, I really suggest you read the letter I linked in the OP. Not to give a nicer version of "search function noob," but that was my best summary of the issue when I wrote it and it still is.

The long-short of it is that Global Strategy Group, a PR firm hired by Zuffa, screwed the pooch royally in the process of getting MMA sanctioned in New York. They saw an opportunity to turn the union group that Zuffa was already hopping mad at into a scape goat for their own failures.

Whether the UFC was complicit in this gross distortion of the truth because they wanted to generate bad PR for the sworn enemies of the Ferrtitas in Nevada or if they simply went along with it because it was an easy lie to believe is both immaterial and impossible to know.

What is known is that they are now too proud and too pot committed to go off message, even if that message may ultimately be damaging their own efforts in New York.

As for Helwani, he's always taken his marching orders from the UFC. The infamous memo that started this whole thing written by Josh Gold, who is part of a different union organization and not authorized to speak to Unite Here, was first printed by Helwani. Also worthy to note that Gold later admitted that it was an excuse to take a pot shot at Zuffa and was intentionally placed where it would have no effect on the legislative process because they don't want to block MMA in New York.

Helwani was not in New York at the time, but in Vegas for the UFC summit that discussed changes in fighter relations policy. Helwani's print also had the memo header stricken from it because it indicated the letter was not directly from Unite Here. His contact for getting this memo was clearly someone working for GSG or Zuffa press relations.

This is just one of many, many career examples of him towing the company line.

Hiro Protagonist
11/07/2011 10:03am,
Okay, thank you, guys.

I take your word for it. Interesting, though.

Is the idea behind this to hinder the creation of a fighter's union?

I take the MLB and the NBA have it, but neither boxing, wrestling nor MMA.

sambosteve
11/07/2011 11:34am,
Do you think Ariel would be willing to come here to discuss, argue, debate, this matter?

No. Definitely not. He would not want to mess up his Zuffa Christmas Bonus.

My prediction, he will soon be leaving MMAFighting and will be working directly for the UFC. At least then we won't have to pretend who his bosses are.

sambosteve
11/07/2011 11:38am,
Okay, thank you, guys.

I take your word for it. Interesting, though.

Is the idea behind this to hinder the creation of a fighter's union?

I take the MLB and the NBA have it, but neither boxing, wrestling nor MMA.

Brouse through http://nymmanow.blogspot.com
Lots of info and history there for you

sambosteve
11/07/2011 11:47am,
Regarding last night as a whole, Helwani behaved exactly as expected. But what was shocking was how quickly he dove into the spin. No image of appearing objective. In fact, he contradicts himself by saying "this is only a one sided story because the other side (the union), wont speak". Then he goes on to tell "the facts" as to why we don't have MMA in NY, when moments earlier he just stated he did not have the whole story...LOL.

Most insulting was when an audience member asked about what New York fans are doing about it, he says "All they do is talk about it" and "the made some t-shirts"...suggesting that we have not been proactive. As if we have not rallied, had round tables, letter campaigns, met with oour delegates, released a documentary, been on talk shows, reported the story locally, cooperated with many media outlets...and on and on. He then goes to say "The UFC has been on the front lines for New Yorkers"...LOL.

Yes, Helwani did have some say over who was on the panel. At one point, last week, when I discovered there would be a panel, I contacted them and asked to be on it. I was told Helwani was one of the people who had to approve that. I was not on the panel obviously. And as Peter said, it was hard not to see that all us local press/coalition folks were avoided in the Q&A. It was pathetic. In fact, it was sadly funny that when they first opened the floor to questions, Peter had his hand raised immediately (he was in the front), and they waited till someone else raised there hand to make the call. There were a few awkward moments where it was clear they were not going to call on Peter. Same happened for me, for Mike from darce Side Radio...

And it tarnished what could have been a wonderful night after a great movie. There was an audience of new fans and there could have been an honest discussion of the issues. But, alas, it was the Helwani show.

jnp
11/07/2011 12:03pm,
Would it be possible to ask fighters to boycott interviews requested by Mr. Helwani?

sambosteve
11/07/2011 12:06pm,
Interesting Idea....

sambosteve
11/07/2011 1:31pm,
Well, MMAFighting was just bought from AOL, by the parent company of Bloody Elbow. I doubt Helwani will be getting the special treatment and access he was from AOL by his new bosses. I don't think they will be dropping that kind of bank of flying reporters all over the world to cover MMA like AOL did (why AOL lost so mush $$$?).

sambosteve
11/07/2011 1:42pm,
Darce Side Radio will be playing the complete audio from last night Q&A session at NYC Docs. MMA Journalist Jim Genia will also be on the show discussing NY MMA and his new book "Raw Combat".

Darce Side airs live at 7-9pm EST and can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thedarceside