Boxing promoter Bob Arum has blasted UFC president Dana White for continuing to put on shows despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The combat sports industry has been put on hold to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Boxing events have been postponed, and the UFC has already held off on three fight cards. However, Dana White is doing everything he can to resume business. He is currently in negotiations to finalize a venue for the upcoming UFC 249 card on April 18. White also expects UFC 250 on May 9 will still happen. The fight cards will likely take place using a small production team from a closed arena and with strict safety precautions. However, with so little still known about the coronavirus and no vaccine available, holding any event will still pose a risk.
Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum thinks the decision to continue is irresponsible as he blasted the UFC kingpin on the State of Combat podcast.
“[White] ought to be ashamed of himself,” he said (transcript via CBS Sports). “What’s going on in this country and the world with this virus, the last thing we need is for an event to take place with no spectators just to get the event to take place. But the truth is Dana White is somebody with a flawed intelligence.”
The UFC 249 event is expected to take place in Florida or perhaps overseas, but nothing has been finalized as of yet. Arum thinks that White’s efforts are wasted and that he’s spreading the wrong message.
“He’s not going to move forward with the card, and if the card happens with people dying in hospitals all over the United States, he ought to be ashamed of himself,” he said. “The message should be stay home and stand down until this is over. Let’s not spread the virus, let’s control the virus and do what we can to staff these hospitals and take care of people who go into intensive care.
“Let’s all be big people and big boys about it and stop the grandstanding,’ he added. “This will end when it ends, and it will end quicker if we all stick together and do what we are supposed to do, not go and shout from the rafters that, ‘I’m not a p—y and I’m going to put this fight on. I don’t care.’ That is absolutely the wrong message to send.”
This isn’t the first time the boxing promoter has targeted Dana White.
The pair have a long history of throwing daggers at one another. Arum previously dismissed MMA as “trash” and called Dana White a “piece of cr*p”. Meanwhile, White has hurled his own fair share of insults, declaring the boxing promoter “the biggest dirtbag in the sport”.
The UFC’s monopoly over MMA has become a point of contention, especially for fighters. It resulted in an antitrust lawsuit where fighters allege that the promotion company used unlawful tactics that created a monopolized market, including exclusive, long-term fighter contracts, and the acquisition of any competing promotions. Bob Arum alluded to this criticism and believes Dana White’s tactics wouldn’t get him very far in the world of boxing.
“Dana has been a good promoter for UFC, but UFC is a monopoly,” Arum said. “He tells the fighters who they are going to fight and when they are going to fight, and he pays them very little against what professional boxers get. So he’s a monopolist, and it’s not easy for a monopolist to go into a sport like boxing, which is anti-monopolist.
”We have very little barriers of entry [in boxing] and we have a lot of promoters. Everybody is looking to promote for the best way that they can for themselves. Dana White could not exist in that type of milieu. He can only exist in an avenue where he is the dominant monopolistic person; where he is manager, promoter, rules maker for the participants, everything.”
Do you agree with Bob Arum and think Dana White should postpone upcoming UFC events due to the threat of coronavirus? Let us know in the comments below.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/1/2020.