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Midnight Mania! Bob Arum blasts Dana White for continuing to run shows amidst COVID-19 pandemic

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Dana White and UFC are blazing a trail to parts unknown at the moment, pushing forward to hold a combat sports event while pretty much the entire sporting world has shutdown. Admittedly, it is a little bit easier to control potential exposure when discussing one-on-one sports compared to team sports, but there’s still a ton of risk involved for fighters, corners, officials, and medical staff even while holding an event in an empty arena.

Despite the risk, White is insistent that the show will continue. In truth, there may be more to the story than White’s simple desire to hold shows, as Endeaver, parent company of UFC, is reportedly strapped for cash.

Regardless, Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum has taken the opportunity to blast UFC and White for their actions on the “State of Combat” podcast. “[White] ought to be ashamed of himself,” Arum said (transcription 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.”

Furthermore, Arum explained that he doesn’t believe the UFC 249 event will even happen despite White’s best efforts, “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. 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. 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.”

Though many agree with Arum that all events should be postponed, it should be noted that White and Arum have a long history of sniping at each others. White once referred to Arum as the “biggest dirtbag in all of sports,” and the relationship only seemed to worsen when White expressed an interest in holding boxing events.

Arum also doubts White’s capabilities in that realm as well, “Dana has been a good promoter for UFC, but UFC is a monopoly. 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.”

As mentioned, White has already received plenty of criticism for pushing UFC forward at this time, but he’s largely responded by attacking media wimps and critics rather than addressing the issues. Somehow, I doubt Arum’s voice will be the one that gets through to him.

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