Ariel Helwani Explains Why He Banned Bryce Mitchell But Not Sean Strickland From His Show

In a recent episode of the MMA Hour, veteran MMA journalist Ariel Helwani talked about the controversial reasons why he has banned UFC featherweight Bryce Mitchell from his show, while still allowing Sean Strickland to appear.

Helwani stated he banned Mitchell due to him attempting to use his show as a platform to promote conspiracy theories and disinformation.

As Helwani explained: “Bryce tried to hijack the show. Bryce tried to turn the show into some, you know, platform for him to spew propaganda. Come on here and take shots at me and one thing. Come on here and start talking about Vegas being a hoax. Sandy Hook being a hoax. Like, I want nothing to do with that.”

Helwani also said that Mitchell had confirmed beforehand if the show was live because he did not want the video to be edited. Helwani felt that Mitchell had pre-planned to hijack the show and hence questioned if the show would be broadcasted live.

“But what he did there I thought was tried to hijack the show and talk about something and stuff that has nothing to do with MMA. That pissed me off. That I felt was a bridge too far.”

In contrast, Helwani has not banned Strickland from appearing. This is despite Strickland’s own history of inflammatory comments.

Helwani explained this dichotomy: “You want to take shots at me, You want to talk about your past. You want to talk about this. The conversation that we had with Sean, the first one that we ever had with him, I thought was one of the best conversations of that particular year because we got to learn about him. And the fact that he was someone who maybe thought about neo-N*zi ism and stuff like that, like to me, was not offensive at all.”

Helwani was referring to a past interview he conducted with Strickland, where they had candidly discussed Strickland’s youthful association with extremist neo-N*zi views and racism. Rather than being offended, Helwani found the open conversation to be one of his best interviews.

Ultimately, Helwani values interviewing people with viewpoints and life experiences different from his own. He explained: “I’m actually more interested in having people that I don’t have much in common with on the show than people I do have things in common with. Because that to me makes for the most interesting conversation.”

However, Helwani draws a firm line when guests like Mitchell attempt to actively use his show as a platform to spread potentially dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation. Even controversial guests like Strickland who Helwani may vehemently disagree with, are allowed on the show as long as they engage in good faith dialogue.