I can’t think of another sports reporter that has been physically threatened by more athletes than MMA journalist Ariel Helwani. UFC fighter Rampage Jackson is the latest to stand toe to toe with Helwani. A poor choice of words from the MMA Hour host almost resulted in a broken nose courtesy of Rampage.
[adinserter block=”1″]Seriously, I have never seen anyone threatened as much Helwani. I think the problem Helwani faces is that he is almost too good at his job. As host of the MMA Hour and writer for MMAFighting.com, Helwani doesn’t hold back and will ask fighters tough questions. Helwani also tends to have a little bit fun with the fighters which appears to be lost on the fighters once they meet Helwani in person.
At this point Helwani is almost turning into a WWE character and it is by no fault of his own. A lot of fighters just don’t like him. Nick Diaz was angry at Helwani a few weeks ago and had unkind words for Ariel when they met face to face. My favorite confrontation was last year when Helwani interviewed boxer James Toney who just went nuts on Helwani with a very bizarre hybrid of threats and humor. There is certainly no dull moments when Helwani makes his way to a UFC press conference.
I will say this about the interview with Rampage. Rampage looks real good here. For all of the talk about Rampage not taking Matt Hamill seriously, Rampage looks like he has been taking his training seriously. It is even more impressive when you consider that Rampage turned down a fight with Jon Jones back in April because he wasn’t in shape. Rampage also appears to be focused on Hamill’s threats to break Jackson’s will.
One serious tidbit from the interview is what Rampage says about his UFC light heavyweight title loss to Forrest Griffin. Rampage told Helwani that he overlooked Griffin. I think everyone knew that but it is one of the few times I have heard him go on record and acknowledge that. Jackson looked unprepared to handle Griffin’s leg kicks which anyone could have told him would be a factor in the fight. By looking at him physically, Jackson isn’t overlooking Hamill.
[adinserter block=”1″]A big motivating factor here could be the words from Dana White at Wednesday’s UFC 130 press event. White said that Jackson is in the mix, along with Lyoto Machida for a UFC light heavyweight title shot at Jon Jones. Since Jackson beat Machida, White more or less said that a win Jackson would be Jones’ next opponent. It would certainly be a long road back for Jackson to the championship. If a title match with Jon Jones isn’t motivation to go out there and knock out Matt Hamill Saturday night, I don’t know what is.
All joking aside, I don’t think it is a positive thing for a sport that is trying to break away from an image of brutality to constantly have MMA fighters threatening violence on reporters. These are the kinds of videos that while fun, could come back to haunt the UFC someday.
UFC Store: Free Shipping on orders over $50 – No Code Needed