Jamahal Hill to Ariel Helwani: ‘You need to stay in a punk’s place’

UFC fighter Jamahal Hill is pushing back against Ariel Helwani's media narrative.

By: Nate Wilcox | 3 days ago

There’s been a considerable amount of coverage of ex-UFC light heavyweight champ Jamahal Hill’s beef with mma media mainstay Ariel Helwani. People are missing the point.

Helwani and Jiri Prochazka discuss Hill

This most recent round started when Hill saw an Ariel Helwani interview with another ex-champ Jiri Prochazka on The MMA Hour. They were discussing Hill’s recent out-of-the-Octagon injury incurred in a pickup basketball game when he tore his Achilles tendon.

“I thought the way you handled it said a lot about you,” Helwani said to Prochazka. “Because the last few months, he was insinuating that you were taking too long. That you were afraid, all this nonsense.”

Jamahal Hill pushes back

Hill has his own YouTube channel and responded immediately.

“This message is for Ariel ho whiny. Now Ariel and Jiri got together last night and had an interview, and as a lot of you already know and have seen, Ariel’s dirty sneaky tactics that he likes to use to get over on Fighters. And he does this all while being completely, man, just a punk about it and doesn’t own up to any of it. Keep throwing shade at me, you have an agenda, have a problem with me, for whatever reason right?”

Hill then references a previous interview he did with Helwani that he believes started things off.

“Maybe it’s the due to the fact of, last time when I came on your show after my championship fight, you tried your tactics on me and they didn’t work. You thought that I was just another dumb fighter, somebody that you could just run circles on verbally, and it didn’t work out for you. And people saw you for what you really were. And in that, you’re now upset and every chance you get, you’re just taking shots at me. Like these are blatantly just shots.”

Hill insults Helwani for not being a fighter

Hill’s next statement is the kind of thing that infuriates old school media members.

“First of all, we all know Ariel, the nerdy, goofy, soft, punk dude who’s admitted multiple times: Oh I wouldn’t fight. I wouldn’t fight. I don’t think I could dare. What if violence… Acts like, oh, like somebody’s Nana or something.

“Has the nerve to disrespect fighters on the show while claiming to be a real journalist that’s here for the fighters, that speaks for the fighters, that’s all about the fighters, that’s all about this and that. And the guys that can do the thing that you can never do, put food on your table, this is how you eat, right? Through what we do. So this video is another example (of the) disrespect that we as Fighters get from punks like this.”

I’ll come back to this point at the end.

‘When you’re a punk you have to stay in a punk’s place’

Hill also had a warning for Helwani.

“I’m not Rampage, bro. I’m not Rampage. I’m not gonna have the whole little playful, little thing back and forth with you like that, bro. You keep disrespecting me and disrespecting my name, I’ma come see about you. Eventually at some point, we’ll be in the same room.

“The fact that I’m a man and a gentleman, you know, regardless of anything, I truly am, I’m a gentleman, is the reason why you would be okay.

“Not because of you, because you’re not capable, you’re not capable of ensuring yourself for being okay like that and that, you know? I have to allow you to be okay. When you’re a punk, you need to stay in a punk’s place. Yeah.”

Apparently Hill believes that he is owed a certain amount of deference because of his capabilities for physical violence. I’ll come back to that at the end as well.

Hill’s alliance with YouTuber MMA Guru

Then Hill references a video by MMA Guru breaking down his interview with Helwani.

“There’s actually a streamer online. His name is MMA Guru, he did a breakdown of the interview. He did a very very good job on that breakdown. Go and watch that video, and you see for yourself. And you see the things that I’m talking about.”

The MMA Guru on Ariel Helwani

In the above video, The MMA Guru dissects the questions Helwani poses to Hill on his MMA Hour show and delves into why Ariel took this approach, reaching the following conclusion:

“I think Ariel is in this mindset right now where he’s feeling himself too much, and he needs an ego check, man. He said before, his job is to promote the fighter and big up the fighter, that’s all he does this for, it’s not about making money off the fighters and stuff like that.

“This was the whole thing he was talking about during The Paddy Pimblett situation: He’s here to promote the fighters and give them a platform and help out the fighters. He’s the fighters guy. He’s all for the fighters. It feels like recently, he wants to win verbal battles with the fighters any chance he possibly can get, because he wants to be ‘Mr. 10-8 Helwani’ and have another 10-8 Helwani moment. And I think he lost a verbal exchange early in this one, and that’s why he went to pathetic tactics later on in this video.”

The MMA Guru also draws attention to Hill’s increasing confusion as Ariel refuses to stray from discussing the fighter’s Twitter statement on the Dana White situation (for the third consecutive time):

“Jamahal Hill wants to change the subject, because why has this even been brought up? Because you’re salty that you lost a verbal exchange about how you diminished Jamahal Hill’s performance in reality, and you know you said some things that weren’t too respectful about him.

“And I’m not saying he has to be respectful. But you can’t act like you are when you clearly aren’t. You know what I mean? Be disrespectful against Jamahal Hill, back yourself on that the entire way through. Don’t try and wriggle your way out of it and act like you weren’t in any way disrespectful and you have no reason to be against me.

“If I’m disrespectful to Jamahal Hill, and Jamahal Hill calls me out on being disrespectful about Jamahal Hill, I’ll say, damn right I was. I feel that way, you know? Ariel, he got caught, and he brought up the Dana White slap situation, just something controversial about Jamahal Hill, to try and get one over on him at the end of this interview, and it was pathetic.”

Ariel Helwani responds with an offer and ‘love in his heart’

Ariel quickly responded (transcribed by MMA News).

“They were asking me a lot about Jamahal Hill, the former light heavyweight champion, who has had some things to say about me on his YouTube channel and over the last few months. I don’t know where we got off on the wrong foot, because the last text conversation that I had with Jamahal was actually a very nice and cordial one, but for whatever reason there’s been a bit of a heel turn as of late,” Helwani said.

“I don’t think this is the platform and the moment to get into a whole battle, a whole 10-7 situation, and I think that, despite the receipts, and despite him getting a lot of things… wrong,” Helwani continued. “No problem, it’s all good. I come here with love in my heart.

“So what I want to say to Jamahal Hill, because a lot of you were asking me to respond to Jamahal Hill, this is what I want to say: You keep talking about being a man and all this stuff. I want to extend an invitation to you, Jamahal Hill, who I have nothing but respect for, and I think that your thoughts on the way I think about you are very wrong.

“I’d like to extend an invitation to you to come in studio, on my program, and we can hash it out, mano a mano, man to man. We can talk about the issues, and hopefully we can squash the beef. I would love that opportunity.

“In case you think I’m trying to get views, click bait, all that stuff, I’ll tell you what. If you do come on the show, I’ll give you the full entire interview, and you can put it on your YouTube channel, you can cut it up, you can post the entire thing, you can have all the views that you want. I’ll only promote that link, I won’t even promote my own.

“So the invitation is extended. I would love to have you on to talk it out, just like I called you and you sent me to voicemail when this initially popped off. I like to deal with things behind the scenes. I like to figure things out. Of course I’m going to talk about you. You’re one of the biggest stars. I’m going to ask Jiří Procházka questions about you. But I’d love to figure this out, so the invitation has been extended if you want to come on the show, in studio or via Zoom, I’d love to have you.”

Hill responds to Helwani’s response

In a video entitled “Jamahal Responds to Ariel’s Response!!!” Hill declined the offer (transcription by FanNation.)

“To be honest with you, I have no interest in coming on your show,” Hill said. “I’ve been on your show, I’ve been on your show multiple times before and leading up into it. Gave you a really great sports soundbite from your show, and I see the respect I got for that. So, now, if you truly want to talk and have a conversation, you can come on my show. You can come right now, ‘Champ Chat Podcast,’ first-ever guest. You can come on and we can talk.”

This isn’t UFC fighter vs journalist, this is independent media vs corporate media

There’s an old saying about feuding with journalists — it’s often called Greener’s Law but apparently dates back to an Indiana Congressman in the 1960s — and it says “Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” 

This was true in the mass media era when the investment necessary to launch a newspaper, radio station or TV station was so beyond the reach of average people — or even celebrities like politicians and athletes — that “the media” was a separate, much respected category: The Fourth Estate.

That term goes back to the great historian Thomas Carlyle who quoted Edmund Burke as having said “There were Three Estates in Parliament (the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal and the House of Commons); but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.” 

The fact that Hill is independently broadcasting on YouTube and is able to reach at least 100,000 viewers (and counting) shows that the power of media is a little more widely distributed than it was in the 20th (or 18th) century.

In fact, his videos bashing Helwani have already basically matched the reach of his last appearance on The MMA Hour.

That’s not nothing. But I would also point out that MMA Fighting, SBN’s YouTube channel (note: Bloody Elbow was formerly owned by Vox Media | SBN, the parent company of MMA Fighting), the channel carrying Helwani’s show, has 1.63 million subscribers.

Helwani’s advantage: Staying power

I’d also point out that while Hill has built a respectable YouTube presence, he’s done it while being promoted on ESPN and the UFC. For reference, here is Google trends date comparing Hill and Helwani over the last year.

Screenshot 2023 08 04 at 12.30.10 PM

Hill’s clearly of much greater interest to many more people than Helwani is. Or at least recently.

Let’s go back 5 years.

Screenshot 2023 08 04 at 12.31.03 PM

But when I go back 5 years, it’s clear that Helwani’s public profile far precedes Hill’s.

Now let’s make it interesting and take things all the way back to 2004…and add Forrest Griffin. As the graph below shows, at his peak Griffin was far far more popular than Hill or Helwani have ever been — and likely will ever be.

Screenshot 2023 08 04 at 12.35.30 PM

But let’s take that same graph and look at a more recent era, say 2015 to 2021. You can see that Helwani remained of interest long after Forrest Griffin faded from view.

Screenshot 2023 08 04 at 12.39.19 PM

Hill’s demands for deference to fighters

The second point I wanted to return to is Hill’s claim that “you’re not capable of ensuring yourself for being okay like that and that, you know? I have to allow you to be okay. When you’re a punk, you need to stay in a Punk’s place.

To this I would remind Hill that this contest is not being contested in a prison or a playground. This is real life.

In real life having some skills at fisticuffs is certainly an advantage. It behooves anyone to pay due respect to men capable of savage unarmed violence.

But, I’d also like to point out that most physical altercations are ultimately adjudicated in one of two ways: in the courts or with weapons.

In the legal system the advantage is absolutely and undeniably with the person who has the most money to hire lawyers.

Referring to weapons, I’ll have to reconstruct a since-deleted Twitter exchange between a UFC fighter and writer Jonathan Snowden.

Snowden tweeted something to the effect of “at least since the invention of swords, unarmed combat has been a game.”

The fighter apparently took offense and replied something to the effect of “I’d yank that weapon out of your hand.”

Snowden remembers replying something to the effect of “there have been some technological advances since swords.”

Snowden relates the rest of the tale in a direct message:

“Then some mad fan was like “you’d never say it to his face.” And I wrote “I’d tell him what I’d tell anybody. I’ve got a 45 and a shovel. I doubt anyone would miss you.”

He adde, “I was just kidding. It’s from the tough guy movie Clueless with Alicia Silverstone.”

So for Mr. Hill, I’d advise him not to expect deference from anyone based on his physical prowess, not the media, not the random jackass at the convenience store, not the (probably armed) angry man honking in traffic.

Punks come in many forms but the ones with lawyers, guns, and money tend to win in the end.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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