The first press conference for the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor on Tuesday was an absolute spectacle as 18,000 filed into Staples Center in Los Angeles to watch the two square off on stage for the first time. Showtime’s stream of the event included two members of the announce team for the bout in Mauro Ranallo and Paulie Malignaggi, along with Brendan Schaub, a former UFC fighter.
However, that crew was one short of what it was supposed to be, as Showtime had planned on having a four-man team, split evenly between boxing and mixed martial arts, with MMA reporter Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com also on the production. Helwani is among the most respected MMA reporters, but he’s best known for his year-long feud with UFC boss Dana White. Their issues became public at UFC 199 when Helwani broke the news of Brock Lesnar’s return hours before the UFC announcement, and White banned he and his site from all UFC events for life, before relenting to backlash the next day.
It’s been over a full year since that went down in June 2016, but White still hasn’t warmed up to Helwani and, according to Helwani, blocked him from participating in the production.
It’s unfortunate that Helwani remains pushed out by UFC and that, because of the co-promotion between Showtime and UFC for this tour, he won’t be allowed to be a part of Showtime’s production. As he noted, he’ll still be able to go to all of the events and remains credentialed for the full tour, but being unable to be part of the production hurts because it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.