ESPN has begun to level up its MMA reporting staff in anticipation of their big streaming partnership with the UFC that kicks off in 2019. The sports broadcaster recently revealed a $150 million dollar a year deal to broadcast 15 UFC events a year on ESPN+ and loads of side programming on all of their platforms. To aid with that side programming, they’ve just poached six time World MMA Awards Journalist of the Year Ariel Helwani from VOX Media’s MMA Fighting site.
According to a press release, Helwani will be taking on ‘several roles at ESPN’ including on-air reporter for MMA on both ESPN and ESPN+. He’ll also have a weekly show co-hosted by former UFC middleweight and current Bellator open-weight contender Chael Sonnen called ‘Ariel & The Bad Guy.’
We imagine Helwani will play a big part in expanding ESPN’s on air coverage for the sport, which up until now has been carried on the web by Brett Okamoto.