Magazine article Tablet Magazine

MMA's Big Macher

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

MMA's Big Macher

Article excerpt

Ariel Helwani has become one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. Helwani's a journalist not a fighter, but the Canadian immigrant, who grew up in a Mizrahi family in Montreal and still wraps tefillin every morning, has been a key player chronicling the rise of MMA and, through his reporting and interviews, propelling the sport into the mainstream.

The UFC, short for Ultimate Fighting Championship, a promotion nearly as synonymous with mixed martial arts as the NFL is with football, runs on a model that combines the bracketed tournament play of league sports with boxing's strongman rule and unshakeable illicitness, and packages the whole thing using the soap-opera-for-men narrative formulas perfected by Vince McMahon and the world of professional wrestling. Helwani understands, as well as all but a handful of people, the importance of crafting characters and storyline for selling a fight. …

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