Bob Arum Tells Boxing Insider Radio “We’re in Identical situation” as Dana White
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Sports are all different. In no way is dribbling a basketball even remotely close to throwing a football. Pushing around a hockey puck on ice is completely different to kicking around a soccer ball on a grassy field.
Yet, no matter how different each sport is from one another, in this point in time, they are all analogous.
Thanks to COVID-19, all sports have been forced to cancel or postpone their seasons until further notice. While every sport sits back and awaits until they are given the green light to come back outside, UFC President Dana White has decided to run through the red light.
On March 14th, during the heart of this global pandemic, White carried out his Fight Night 170 card in front of no fans. Those who wanted to complain, chose not to as many were just happy to have something other spongebob to watch. White’s three shows that followed however, were forced to cancel due to the virus.
Instead of throwing in the towel, White decided to get creative. His idea was simple, rent an island and host his fights there. “Fight Island” became both catchy and a reality. But it was also short lived as the higher ups at ESPN decided to axe the event. A decision that promoter Bob Arum agreed with.
“ESPN and Disney are responsible citizens of our country and of the state of California,” said Bob Arum on a recent phone interview with Boxing Insider radio. “They decided that this event would jeopardize the citizens of California. So they decided against the event. I think that was appropriate.”
With White looking like a complete fool as he tried to wiggle his way around this pandemic, now would be the perfect time for Arum to rip into him. To say that the two haven’t liked each other over the years would be putting it mildly.
In 2017, White didn’t hold back with his words for Arum after he was able to officially make the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor mega fight.
“It just goes to show what an asshole Bob Arum is actually,” said White. “It was easily one of the easiest fights I’ve ever done.”
Later that year, Arum had some choice words of his own for White.
“He’s a piece of shit. He’s got a UFC that’s cratering and he needs boxing to save himself.”
The opening was there for Arum to take another shot at White, and many believed it would have been justified. But instead, Arum chose to take a different and much more polite route.
“Now as far as Dana White is concerned, he is of a completely different political pursuit than I am in. I think that a lot of people that think like him tend to minimize the risk of the Coronavirus. And therefore I think that what he was doing was irresponsible. But he looks at it as hey, we have to get back to normal and I can’t wait to get back to normal so I’m going to take it into my own hands. Well, I disagree with that but I’m not going to attack his motives. He obviously thinks a lot differently than I do.”
For the stunt that White pulled trying to stage his events in the midst of a pandemic, he’s been called selfish and irresponsible. But in actuality, he had a bit of money on his mind.
When White and the UFC signed their deal with ESPN back in 2018, they were reportedly obligated to put on roughly 42 shows a year. But with this pandemic having no end date in sight, it’s safe to say that White would be missing out on a boatload of money.
But White isn’t the only one in a desperate situation to get his hands on the ridiculous money promised to him by ESPN.
“We’re in identical situations because our contracts are similar, I believe in terms of our outputs. But the way that you deal with that situation is once things open up and you can responsibly do events with or without spectators, then you put on three or four events in a week.”
“But we will catch up and do all of the events that we are required to do by ESPN and I’m sure the UFC will do the same thing. But the solution is not to rush events when we’re in the situation that we’re in now. But to figure out how we’re going to make up and stage those events when we’re able to, in a responsible manner.”