'Cowboy behaviour': Dana White slammed as UFC events go ahead

UFC president Dana White has been taken to task by legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum over his continued to efforts to host fights amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum isn’t sure about what he’s seeing from the mixed martial arts world and its most powerful man’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Top Rank CEO had some warnings for UFC president Dana White on restarting his fights in an interview with BoxingScene.com.

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“Good luck to them,” Arum told the online publication.

“I just hope that they’re not endangering the safety of anyone. But this kind of cowboy behaviour doesn’t do anybody any good.”

White recently announced plans to hold three UFC events in Jacksonville, Florida, this month, taking advantage of the state’s lax restrictions for sports during the pandemic. UFC 249, headlined by Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje, is now scheduled for May 9, while UFC Fight Nights will be held on May 13 and May 16.

White has been persistent in attempting to hold events throughout the pandemic, refusing to cancel events when worries about the virus were shutting down every other league and previously trying to hold UFC 249 on California tribal land to circumvent stay-at-home mandates. He’s still working to get his private island venture off the ground.

Despite those efforts, the UFC has not held a single event since March 14, which was closed off from fans in Brazil.

‘Very little respect’: Bob Arum continues criticism of UFC boss Dana White

Arum has blasted White’s behavior in the past, saying White had a “flawed intelligence” and “ought to be ashamed of himself.” By contrast, Arum has delayed the rematch between WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder — which figures to be highly lucrative — to November at the earliest.

Arum has previously signaled interest in staging events Florida, but told BoxingScene.com that he won’t put together a boxing card until late June at the earliest:

“We’re looking now with Nevada, which we’ll do in a sensible way, or California,” Arum said.

“We’re working with [Nevada’s] Bob Bennett and [California’s] Andy Foster, and we’re talking to the Texas commission.

“We’re only gonna do this if it’s safe for the fighters and everyone involved, and if it’s approved by the medical authorities.

“We’re not gonna be cowboys, like Dana White. I don’t wanna get politics involved, but I have really very little respect for Dana and what he’s doing.”

Instead of White’s example, Arum pointed to that of NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and their cautious approach to holding sporting events.

Silver has refused to entertain the idea of returning to action until it’s safe, while Goodell recently wrapped a virtual NFL draft that was well-received and well-rated.

With Yahoo Sports US/Jack Baer