MMA reporter Ariel Helwani leaving ESPN after three years

Ariel Helwani is leaving ESPN on June 15, he announced Sunday.  

The MMA reporter for the network maintained it was an amicable split, as his three-year contract he signed in 2018 expired. 

"I want to let you know that there's no hard feelings here. ESPN did offer me a new contract," Helwani said in a video posted on Instagram. "I signed for 3 years back in 2018. They offered me a new contract. I was given the opportunity to look at what was out there for me and I found a lot of exciting opportunities and a lot of things that think the fans will really like and be pumped about, as I am as well. I'm not quite ready to announce that.

"I'll tell you about that soon." 

Helwani expressed gratitude for opportunities at ESPN, saying it was "a dream come true … I have no regrets." The Montreal, Canada native hosted a podcast called "Ariel Helwani's MMA Show" and other shows "Ariel & The Bad Guy" and "DC & Helwani" with former UFC champion Daniel Cormier. 

July 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV. USA; Ariel Helwani's last day at ESPN will be June 15. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports)

In addition to being a top voice in the MMA space, Helwani served as a sideline reporter during NBA games, which he looked back on fondly in his farewell video. 

Helwani commands a massive social media presence, boasting 1.1 million followers on Instagram and approaching one million on Twitter. 

Prior to ESPN, Helwani wrote for MMA

"I'd be lying if I said I'd go there and leave three years later," Helwani said. "But this is a crazy world, a crazy business." 

Helwani said the past six months have been stressful as the deadline to decide his future arrived. He 

Helwani has not been immune to controversies with UFC boss Dana White, and he thanked his bosses at ESPN and the fans for their support during those ordeals. 

"I feel like I work for the fans. You guys saved my career. There's no doubt about that. So I will always try to do right by the fans and try to cover the sport the right way and a fun way and an original way." 

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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