By Sebastian Guccione
If you follow the world of mixed martial arts, you likely also follow or at least have heard of “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.” I’d suggest the show to anyone who is interested in MMA or anyone who is at least open to learning more about the sport and its participants beyond the negative stereotype of barbarians mindlessly going at it in a cage. Ariel’s show is guest-based, and his reputation has grown to the point that virtually all of the sport’s top level men and women are willing to go on the show. Hearing from fighters before their big nights through a long-form, uncensored medium adds another dimension to MMA beyond the funny soundbites and quips that go viral at press conferences. This is compounded by the fact that part of Ariel’s reputation arises from him not being afraid to ask fighters difficult questions, which is something that just isn’t as present in other sports. For example, in the NBA there is no show or podcast that top players consistently go on where reporters will attempt to dig deeper into why a player has not been performing in the way that they had hoped or was expected from them. That work is often left to the speculation of commentators; whereas on Ariel’s show, fighters anticipate and do not shy away from difficult questions. For instance, one fighter, Ben Askren, was on the cusp of being 20-0 in his MMA career, which would have likely given him a title shot, but at the start of his 20th fight, he was caught by a perfectly executed flying knee, resulting in his opponent having achieved the fastest knockout in UFC history at 5 seconds, a knockout which instantly went viral. After the uniquely heavy defeat, Askren still went on Ariel’s show and gave his raw analysis of what happened and how he was feeling, answering every question sincerely. This level of honesty that exists on his show is a reflection of the honesty that is intrinsic to MMA. 5/5 show, would recommend.