- MMA journalist Ariel Helwani expressed his string disapproval of Kamaru Usman, Henry Cejudo, and Justin Gaethje’s visit to Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya
- The 40-year-old explained why he’s not always covering such kind of stories
Veteran MMA journalist Ariel Helwani did not mince his words when he shared his honest take on the recent visit of UFC stars Kamaru Usman, Henry Cejudo and Justin Gaethje to Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya. In a lengthy talk on his show, Helwani expressed his disappointment over the trio’s decision to boast about their time with the controversial warlord.
They should’ve done better
In a recent Q&A session of The MMA Hour, Helwani questioned the reason behind Usman, Cejudo, and Gaethje’s decision to pay Kadyrov a visit knowing what the notoriety of the Chechen leader worldwide. For Helwani, it wasn’s the best thing to do as a proud American citizen.
“I have talked to fighters going over there. Chris Weidman comes to mind, Fabricio Werdum comes to mind in the past,” Helwani began. “I’ve talked about his involvement in the sport, I’ve talked about some of the shall we say conflicts uncomftable storylines to put it very mildly associated with the sport. I will also say when I saw the video, and the footage, and the photos, of those three fighters in particular Kamaru Usman, Henry Cejudo and Justin Gaethje over there in Chechnya partaking in these sort of scenes with guns and birthday parties and all that stuff, disappointing.”
“I’m sorry if that offend someone but given everything that is going on in the world right now and given how this country, whom they are proud citizens of, who the likes of Henry Cejudo has represented on the world stage, who the likes of Justin Gaethje walks into fights holding the flag of, who the likes of Kamaru Usman has said gave him and his family a better life and opportunity and American Dream and all that stuff and in this climate, to go over there and partake in this stuff when this country views that individual as a war criminal, as a dictator, what are you thinking?,” he continued.
Former UFC champs Kamaru Usman and Henry Cejudo, along with Justin Gaethje, are all currently in Chechnya at the invitation of the republic's warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
Here they are testing out guns at a special forces facility in Gudermes. pic.twitter.com/lJIm8kBHRS
— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) November 25, 2022
Helwani even pointed out that while he is sure Usman, Cejudo and Gaethje were just doing their job, stressing it was more likely their managers’ decision, he is also certain there are UFC fighters who would outright say “no” to that.
“There are no excuses now. Not with the real sports story, not with the reporting of the likes of Karim Zidan, and some of the others, there are no excuses now…What will you do for a dollar? How far will you go? We know the answer as it pertains to some people and it’s disappointing to say the least. I guarantee you there are a lot of fighters who would say ‘no’ to this. I can guarantee you there are a lot of fighters who would say ‘you could keep your money, I’m not going to do this’,” Helwani added.
“This sport is filled with conflicts. This sport is filled with questionable characters,” he continued. “It’s not rainbows and lollipops. It’s the fight game, and unfortunately the fight game can be a very, very dirty, controversial, conflicting place.”
People have no idea
The 40-year-old also took a swipe at Twitter users who assume he would never touch such subjects out of fear of losing connection to UFC stars. Helwani exclaimed that it wasn’t even the case in the first place.
“I saw someone on Twitter says ‘Ariel won’t talk about this.’ This is a perfect example of how dumb people are on Twitter and how everyone hides behind their fake profiles and why I am rooting for Elon Musk to burn it to the ground,” Helwani fumed. “I saw someone on Twitter, a couple of days ago says, ‘Ariel doesn’t have the balls to talk about this cause he’s afraid to lose access to all these fighters.’ Do you realize how dumb you are? That just goes to show how no one knows what they’re talking about, everyone is dumb, you just talk sh*t just for the sake of talking sh*t.”
“What are you talking about? I haven’t had access to these fighters other than the ones that stick up and be like ‘wait a minute I’m paying you since 2019, I don’t give a f*ck.’ I haven’t talked to Henry Cejudo since 2019. I haven’t talked to Kamaru Usman sicne 2018, Justin Gaethji, 2018. What do I care? So what do you want me to do? What do you want the MMA media to do?,” he continued.
Sticking to the point
To further stress his point, Helwani said he can’t always please the fans by covering everything about MMA, and to quite frankly, he prefers to cover things that matter the most in the sport such as stories about the hard-working fighters and not the ones who are involved in negative stuff.
“Everyone wants to cover every aspect of the sport,” Helwani explained. “I sit here for about eight or so hours, in addition to other shows that I do 10, 12 hours trying to talk about as much as possible…you want me to come here and talk about that for four hours? I mean I don’t know if I’ll have a lot of people watching after minute 15. But I think this is a very important thing, the part that I’m speaking about right here is that the MMA media needs to stand up and show some guts.”
Bottom line, Helwani concluded that what Usman, Cejudo, and Gaethje, for him, was “incredibly disappointing” and “disheartening.”
“I would rather come on the show, while at times focusing on these stuff, and talk about the Kaylas, and the Arnold Allens, and the DCs and the Stipes, and the Leon Edwards, and the Volkanovskis, and the Izzys, and the Alex Pereiras, that’s what I choose to do. And if you think that’s a cop-out that’s totally fine, there’s enough people out there that are continuously shining a light. I can’t do that, that’s not the way I want to cover the sport but make no mistake about it it’s let me be very clear it’s incredibly disappointing, it’s disheartening. I wish it wasn’t the case, I hope they have a good reason for it…and I hope they can look at themselves in the mirror and understand how this could be to a lot of people and how it makes them look.”
Kadyrov has developed quite a good relationship with people in the MMA world. He even played the role of a peacemaker in a previous dust-up between Khamzat Chimaev and Abubakar Nurmagomedov. However, Helwani, as well as other MMA fans, still view him negatively.