Reporter who wanted to get branded by Cowboy Cerrone ‘for clout’ fires back after Ariel Helwani calls her out

A disagreement has erupted between two prominent figures in the combat sports media world, with a reporter firing back at Ariel Helwani’s criticism over a question she asked Dana White at a recent UFC event.

The controversy began when the reporter, Abbey Wagoner, asked White about the possibility of branding her at the World Finals, referring to the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Twisted Steel event. Helwani, a well-respected journalist in the combat sports world, took issue with the question, implying that it was irrelevant and seemingly mocking the reporter for asking it.

However, the reporter has responded strongly to Helwani’s criticism, addressing the issue in a video statement. “Ariel Helwani, I’ve got a lot of respect for you as a reporter and as a trailblazer in combat sports media, because without you, I wouldn’t have the job that I have,” she said. “But you need to recognize, too. Yeah, you’re a journalist, you podcast, you talk to fighters. You and I are in very different lanes.”

The reporter emphasized that she had been following White’s involvement in the PBR since November last year and had been one of the first MMA reporters to cover the story. She also noted that she was one of the only combat sports personalities to attend the PBR event in Jacksonville, demonstrating her commitment to reporting on the story.

“I was one of the first MMA reporters to actually give a s*it about that story, and I’m one of the only combat sports personalities that shows up at the PBR,” she said. “Other than the monster crew, I was the only one in Jacksonville covering Twisted Steel, and I went out specifically to Albuquerque.”

The reporter took issue with Helwani’s characterization of her question as irrelevant, suggesting that Helwani was out of line in questioning her right to be in the room. “Maybe don’t question my relevancy or my right to be in that room without understanding everything that goes in, and maybe don’t clip the one part of the conversation that Dana took a little bit too far and that I rolled with,” she said.

The exchange highlights the often-cutthroat world of combat sports media, where journalists and reporters are constantly competing for scoops and recognition.

Ultimately Helwani might be blasting this as a marketing hoax. After all, Endeavor owns PBR, Dana White owns one of the bulls as a marketing gimmick. Donald Cerrone was set to ride said bull at an event but suffered an injury that derailed his quest to get paid. And Wagoner claims she’s the “only MMA media covering it” – which makes sense because none of this has anything to do with martial arts or her clout chasing.