Lately, ESPN’s lead UFC reporter, Ariel Helwani, has been in the news for his thoughts on what former MMA fighter Gina Carano had to say in terms of viewing her political thoughts to how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany, as well as UFC President Dana White’s response to what he had to say.
More headlines were made when Helwani received support from a former ESPN colleague in Dan Le Batard.
This week, Helwani was on the That’s What She Said podcast with Sarah Spain in an interview that was recorded at the beginning of February. While this topic was not addressed due to timing, Spain took her listeners into how Helwani has become what he is today.
Helwani told Spain that support from his colleagues was nothing new. He was banned by the UFC in 2016 after reporting at UFC 199 that Brock Lesner was going to come out of retirement. Helwani was working for MMAFighting.com at the time, but said media outlets far bigger than that picked up on his story and the story of his banishment.
“That night, I go to my hotel room and pack my bags and take a super early flight back home,” Helwani said on the podcast. “I will never forget buying the WI-FI and going on my Twitter app and seeing a flood of retweets from really famous people and people I look up to. I looked up to Dan Le Batard. I didn’t think he knew who I was and there is a DM asking if I can come on his show on Monday.”
He ended up getting another call from Scott Van Pelt to come on SportsCenter. He also made appearances on The Dan Patrick Show and The Rich Eisen Show to talk about his banning. In fact, he was on the set of SportsCenter when he got word that UFC had reversed course on their decision.
To this day, Helwani still thanks those prominent media figures for being very vocal about the UFC’s ban of him and getting his story into the mainstream media. He said without that, he would not be where he is today.
“By the way, those journalists (Dan Patrick, Dan Le Batard, Rich Eisen, Rachel Nichols, Frank Isola). If they did not stick up for me, I am not talking to you as an ESPN journalist. They saved my career, those people, because they took that story outside of the MMA bubble, so I will always be indebted to those individuals.”
As Helwani told Spain, covering the UFC is not easy because writers can be banned and he even said that the league still does not help him with much, yet he still finds a way to get the job done and successfully.
“At the end of the day, I just want to be able to do the job,” Helwani said noting that he has been told many times that a fighter’s schedule is too full to accommodate his interview requests. “I don’t want my livelihood to be messed with. I think the fans are smart. They see what’s messed up.”
Online Sports Betting Not Happening In Maryland In 2022
“Some state regulators had expressed optimism at one point that online sports betting in Maryland would go live by the end of this year or in time for next year’s Super Bowl.”
Online sports betting in Maryland appears to have no shot of happening this year due mainly to the fact that the state’s oversight committee on sports wagering is hung up on how to bring women and minority-owned businesses into the fold.
The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Committee (SWARC) is currently awaiting results of a disparity study by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.
Some state regulators had expressed optimism at one point that online sports betting in Maryland would go live by the end of this year or in time for next year’s Super Bowl. But given where SWARC is, the whole process is being held up to the point that it’ll likely be later in 2023 before residents can use their phones to place bets.
It’s been just over a year since Governor Larry Hogan signed legislation that legalized sports betting in the state. Since then, five casinos in the state have opened retail sportsbooks.
The casinos have handled more than $132 million in bets since December. $26.9 million in wagers were placed in April alone.
Media Reacts To Nick Saban’s Comments On Texas A&M, Jackson State
“Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.”
Nick Saban had some choice words about recruiting in the NIL era on Wednesday night. The Alabama head coach didn’t just voice frustrations with the process. He called out three schools specifically for using Name, Image and Likeness payments to create an advantage for themselves in recruiting.
He said that Texas A&M, which signed the top-ranked recruiting class in 2022 according to a number of outlets “bought every player on their team.”
He said that Jackson State gave a player $1 million to come to the school. “It was in the paper,” he said. “They bragged about it! Nobody did anything about it.”
It is likely that he was talking about defensive back Travis Hunter, widely regarded as one of the five best players in the class of 2022. It should be noted that Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders has been adamant that Hunter did not receive a dime from the school or anyone else.
The comments created plenty of content on sports radio on Thursday.
Jimbo Fischer, the head coach of Texas A&M took the story to a new level with a press conference of his own in which he cryptically encouraged people to “dig into” Saban’s career history.
The commentary in the sports media came in all kinds of forms. Plenty took to Twitter to express an opinion.
Others used the feud to create comedy.
Finally, others did actual reporting. they made phone calls to get context and further the story.
The coaches may be relatively quiet in public for a while. That doesn’t mean the stories and reactions are going away. Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.
Bleav Announces Partnership With SiriusXM
“The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.”
A new partnership will see content from the Bleav Podcast Network come under the SiriusXM umbrella. All 32 of the network’s NFL team-specific podcasts will now be available on the SXM app. The satellite radio company will also have the ability to air Bleav content on its sports channels.
“SiriusXM is a leader in content. We’re very happy to be a part of their programming and continue to amplify the voice of our talent,” Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm said in a press release. “SiriusXM listeners will be able to regularly hear from athletes that played for their team, bringing fans insight and access that only a player can.”
The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.
The deal will also lead to more content in the future. The companies expect to add to the Bleav content available on the SXM App, including shows focused on other professional and college sports.
“Bleav’s team-focused programming, hosted by many former stars from the league, give fans a unique and experienced perspective into their favorite players and franchises,” said Steve Cohen, SiriusXM’s SVP of Sports Programming and Podcasts. “Bleav’s network of shows deliver valuable insight for fans of every NFL team. They are a great addition to the selection of sports podcasts available on the SXM App and we look forward to adding other shows, focused on other sports, from the Bleav network to SiriusXM in the future.”