If you had half an hour with the arguably best interviewer in all sports, what would you ask first? What even makes a good question?

Perhaps this in itself is a good place to start: What makes the question good?

The meta nature of the situation is not lost Ariel Helwani. “I’ve never asked this before,” the Canadian laughs. “You seemed interested in my answer, didn’t you? If you come across someone as curious, genuine, genuinely interested, and you really want to know – you’re not asking to ask – that’s the key to a great interview. Also: listening, asking good follow-ups, not sticking to a set of questions.

“Nothing makes me think of interviewers looking at a piece of paper or… This mma Hour, I do not have a single question in writing. I know who I’m talking to, I’m aware of what just happened (with them), but it never comes across as a good interview when it feels like an interview. It has to be a conversation.”

This approach has seen the 40-year-old Helwani become and remain a leading journalist in mixed martial arts for much of 20 years, a figure famous as many fighters. For nearly two decades, Helwani has maintained relationships with some of the biggest names in MMA, whose hearts and minds he explores with soothing candor, but enjoys spending time with fighters of all profiles. “It’s so much fun for me to shine a light on their stories, their personalities, their trials and tribulations, their successes and victories,” she says. Even long-term hate UFC President Dana White hasn’t stopped the Canadian from being the most watched journalist in sports (White said of Helwani in December: “He’s the biggest piece of scumbag, the slimiest, the dirtiest, son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.”).

But Helwani’s passion and skills are not limited to a cage – neither a literal nor a figurative cage. homeowner MMA Time YouTube show and Ringtone MMA The podcast has just come out of a series of interviews for BT Sport where WWE spoke to key figures from the WrestleMania weekend, including the sidelines. NBA Among his accolades is reporting and hosting boxing press conferences. His resume now includes working with ESPN, BT, Showtime, MMA Fighting, and more.

“My goal was to be recognized as the best interviewer in MMA, then the best in combat, then in sports. Now I want to be the best interviewer. Period.” Helwani says this while speaking on Showtime less than an hour after his NBA show kicks off. Ariel Helwani Basketball Show. For someone who started writing on a website dedicated to the topic of Quebec basketball, this is a hoop moment – the closure of the hoop.

“If that’s not happiness, I don’t know what is,” she smiles. “By the way, I’m a negative person but today is a great day.

“I have this thing on my mind: ‘You only have one life.’ There will be a point where no one wants to talk to me, do business with me, and I just want to try to do everything. And maybe I do too much, but I prefer to work and be busy; I know one day it will stop. I just don’t want to be 85 years old and regret some things.

“I just want to do fun, different things where I can show my personality. As I develop and grow, ultimately I just want to be fun. I’m not saying I want to sing and dance and be crazy for people; So, the biggest compliment someone can give me is: ‘I was having a bad day and I turned on your program and it made me forget.’ There’s a guy who writes to me all the time, I think he’s Argentinian, and calls me “the friend in his head” because he hears my voice all the time. He is like any other man, his wife says to him: ‘Are you going to sleep with this man’s voice? Aren’t you tired of him?’ To be honest, I’d be fed up with myself.

“But there’s nothing better than to be a getaway for someone. Tell me that over the news or breaking news. It’s the greatest gift I can give anyone else. My biggest fear is that one day I’ll wake up and it’ll all end or just tweet and cancel. “I don’t want this to end because it’s so much fun.”

Helwani admits to being an “anxious, introverted person” and admits: “At the beginning of the NBA thing, my heart was beating so fast I thought it would burst out of my throat.” But now, that heart often appears on his arm. There’s even an upgraded version of Helwani, where the 40-year-old often “is” during the stream: “Heel-wani” is a nod to the term used for a bad guy in professional wrestling, but it could still be a topic of its own. additional product. He even resorted to handing out “10-7s” to his critics on the air, citing a disproportionate scorecard that is rare in combat sports. White, Liverpudlian UFC star Paddy Pimblett, and ex-fighter Brendan Schaub are among those who have incurred Helwani’s wrath and have no regrets for publicly responding to their comments.

Pictured with world boxing champion Amanda Serrano, Ariel Helwani is a multiple-time MMA Journalist of the Year award

(Getty Images)

“If they get personal and they lie,” he explains. “If you’re going to insult me, if you think I’m a bad broadcaster, that’s fine – it’s impossible to be liked by everyone – but if you lie about me, that’s the line I draw.

“I used to have very thin skin, it was crushing me. It would be a Sunday and I’d let a Twitter idiot ruin my day at the park with my family. From where? One of the things I am most proud of is that I no longer care as much as I used to. Am I immune to this? No. Do I still see things that hurt my feelings? We are definitely human. But I’m working on all these things.

“If I wasn’t a father and husband, I think I would have broken up a long time ago because if I didn’t have that perspective,” she continues. “I would have been so intensely obsessed with work that it would have been unhealthy if it weren’t for three little kids who wanted to play with me and talk about what little kids wanted to talk about. And I’m already obsessed! Having more important things, more important people has changed me for the better. It’s very rewarding.

“I can see two older people starting to understand what I’m doing and getting excited about it. They’re proud, they think my job is cool. We went to my middle son’s school last year and there was a project event. One of the questions was, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ He wrote: ‘Interview people.’ It’s amazing. And my daughter is six years old and she has a YouTube channel that I don’t promote, she has a microphone and she’s interviewing my mom and my wife. She’s really good!”

He may be really good, but his father? His father wants to be the best. “Period.”