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MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani bolts for ESPN, ‘The MMA Hour’ expected to continue on

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Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards 2011 Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Veteran mixed martial arts (MMA) journalist Ariel Helwani is departing MMAfighting.com to join the ranks of ESPN, where he’ll play protagonist opposite longtime “Bad Guy” Chael Sonnen, one of many hats the Canadian is expected to wear for the “worldwide leader in sports.”

From ESPN.com:

“Ariel and The Bad Guy” will team Helwani with professional fighter and ESPN MMA analyst, Chael Sonnen, for a fast-paced 30-minute weekly breakdown of the top stories, developments and upcoming fights. New episodes will be available on ESPN+ each Wednesday, beginning June 20, and there will be special episodes before and after major mixed martial arts events.

Fans of “The MMA Hour” will be pleased to know the show must go on, it will just have to do so without the services of Helwani, who is expected to have his own podcast on ESPN, in addition to his regular duties as MMA reporter.

“Thanks to you, the wonderful fans of this sport, for always being so great to me throughout all the ups and downs,” Helwani wrote on Twitter. “From Jarry Park to now ESPN, what a fun ride it’s been. We’ve had what I consider to be a special bond for over a decade.”