Boxing promoter Bob Arum is on lockdown, self-quarantining in Los Angeles, and he’s burning up the hours by catching up on his reading and binge-watching some quality fare on Hulu and Netflix.
The world keeps turning, though, and business has to continue. Boxing is in a holding pattern, and so is mixed martial arts, but the titans of those realms are looking at when and how they can restart the machines.
Dana White, the UFC President, has been getting emotional of late, because he’s frustrated that he can’t hold live events. White showed his emotional side when he took aim at MMA media during chats with various outlets and on IG videos.
“Here’s the reality: We will be up and running before any other sport will,” White said 10 days ago. “Our sport’s different. We have our own arena next door (the UFC Apex). So we will fulfill every fight for every fighter this year, and we’ll get this thing done.”
Then, he went full-on asshole:
“Think about this: Go online and look at some of these people — and this isn’t a knock, this is just a fact. The weakest, wimpiest people on earth cover the biggest, baddest sport on earth,” White said. “What do you expect them to say? What do you think they’re gonna say?”
No, it’s not a knock, maybe if you have been sitting on that high horse for so long, you can’t conceive of how “regular” people live. White loves positive coverage, but gets very thin-skinned if you don’t write favorably about him.
“Listen, the media can talk as much shit as they want,” White continued. “They don’t feed families. They don’t take care of fucking people. They don’t have people that count on them. They don’t have people to support.”
Arum was told some of these snippets, and shared how he looks at White, and such pronouncements.
“Well, you gotta understand, Dana White is a big supporter of Donald Trump,” Arum told me. “He thinks like Donald Trump, so it’s not surprising that he said what he said. But you gotta take it from where it comes from. Dana White is talking irresponsibly, the same way the President talks irresponsibly. You cannot talk about coming back, or bringing back a sport, or anything else, until you get a clearance from the reputable health authorities. And any other talk is just irresponsible, totally irresponsible.”
I admitted White’s smack talk on media not feeding families hit a nerve. Arum said to ignore it, he says it reflects how Trump tries to blame “fake news” for when he steps in shit.
“We cannot in these times get worked up by that stuff, when there’s so much more we can accomplish all pulling together.”
Good point, and helpful to the blood pressure.
White also recently said, “I hate speaking negatively about the sport of boxing, other than the fact that it’s a mess – we all knows it’s a mess – and that it needs to be fixed, if it can be fixed. I told you guys that I would have a press conference last October and announce all these things, but as I dove into this thing and started to look into the sport of boxing, the economics of boxing, that sport’s a mess. It’s a mess and it’s in big trouble. I don’t know. I don’t know if it can be fixed.”
Arum again linked White to Trump, both “say things without thinking. I can’t waste my time with what Dana White is saying and thinking.”
Arum told me he would want fighters to be tested for COVID-19 before fighting, and thinks a good commission would want the same. ESPN probably wouldn’t show UFC events if proper testing weren’t in place, the Brooklyn-born businessman told me.
White has been looking at where he can stage a show, commission shopping, perhaps, so we have to see if he is looking to do the right thing, for his fighters. UFC fighters have spoken up over the years, accusing White of looking out primarily for himself and the ownership class over the combatants.
Some speculate that White decided to back off getting into boxing, because he realized that top level talents get a much heftier portion of the pies in boxing than in MMA. How would his MMA athletes react if he had to adjust his purses, and pay up to pugilists? The UFC fighters would get restless, one would think.
Listen to more from Arum, including some TV picks for binge-watching, here.