Professional journalism is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in the MMA community. Writers and bloggers alike come under fire on an almost daily basis from fans and, sometimes, even other writers. MMA seems to be a bit of an anomaly when it comes to journalists in today’s social media driven world.

While the major team sports have had a set protocol for years with some of the most well-known faces in sports journalism, MMA remains without a set of rules for reporters to follow. In fact, the sport of MMA has truly one guy who is the face of journalism in the sport, Ariel Helwani.

Or at least if you believe he’s a journalist.

Helwani has become the go-to guy for both news and information in the MMA community. Of course, being the guy has both pros and cons. The pros are pretty apparent as Helwani talks to whoever he wants, pretty much whenever he wants.

It’s the negatives that seem to cause a stir among journalists and Helwani. The MMAFighting writer has come under scrutiny numerous time for his demeanor with fighters and how he goes about his job.

One incident in particular was when Helwani had Bob Sapp come onto his radio show. Helwani spent the better part of a half hour attempting to get Sapp to admit to throwing fights, something Sapp seemed to admit in a roundabout way. Sapp made a video aimed towards Helwani after their talks, and Helwani fired back through his Twitter account.

It is Helwani’s actions that seem to draw the ire of other journalists who claim he’s virtually nothing more than a blogger. But I would beg to differ with that line of thought.

Granted, if you go by the “old school” method of thinking, Helwani exhibits a bit of unprofessionalism with how he engages the fighters he interviews. He is able to blur the lines between athlete and journalist, and for some writers, that simply isn’t allowed.

Like attempting to be friends with your boss, there are certain lines that one does not cross in the workplace, but Helwani crosses the line multiple times.

But that’s okay.

It’s his job to get the story, and anyone who’s had the pleasure to interview fighters know that it’s like playing Russian roulette sometimes. Some guys simply won’t stop talking, giving you a mountain of juicy quotes to use. For other fighters who simply don’t have an outgoing personality, getting good quotes can be the equivalent to pulling teeth.

Yet Helwani is able to maneuver himself both with the talkers and the quiet ones. It seems no matter who Helwani puts in front of a microphone, they tend to talk.

He manages to do this flawlessly through immersing himself in the world of fighters and MMA. Talking to Helwani isn’t like appearing on Good Morning America, it’s more akin to talking to one of your buddies. That is why so many guys go to people like Helwani, because they know he isn’t going to twist their words and takes time to write from the inside, not just observing from outside the fish bowl.

Helwani uses his radio show and Twitter, among other outlets, to converse with the fighters.

That’s why guys like Helwani will draw criticism for how they do their reporting. He isn’t stuck inside the news room all day waiting for a hot tip to come through the television. My journalism teacher in school referred to it as “on-the-go journalism.”

If reporters wish to remain stoic and professional, that is their choice. That just means guys like Helwani, among others, that continue to use social media to enhance their writing will continue to get the true stories.

Photo: Ariel Helwani (R) embraces B.J. Penn (Esther Lin/AOL)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.