Boxing promoter Bob Arum does not agree with the timing of UFC's return amid the coronavirus pandemic.
UFC president Dana White announced that three events are scheduled for the month of May without fans in attendance after the coronavirus pandemic halted all fights. UFC 249, which was originally scheduled for April 18, will be the first event held after the hiatus on May 9 in Jacksonville, Fla.
As UFC is returning to action while other sports remain halted, Arum expressed his concern for the health and safety of those involved in running the fights.
“Good luck to them,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “I just hope that they’re not endangering the safety of anyone. But this kind of cowboy behavior doesn’t do anybody any good.”
Arum, who is the founder and CEO of Top Rank boxing, said that he does not plan to hold any events until late June at the earliest.
"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," Arum said. "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.”
White was forced to delay UFC 249 and other events after he was reportedly told to "stand down" by top Disney and ESPN executives. Lyman Good, who was scheduled to fight in the event, became the first UFC athlete to announce he tested positive for COVID-19.
“I think the behavior of people in sports we should be following are Adam Silver of the NBA, Roger Goodell of the NFL, people who are proceeding cautiously and safely, not people who are acting like cowboys," Arum said. "...It turned out one of the fighters, in fact, tested positive afterwards for coronavirus. You know, if we get something like that on one of Dana’s shows, and God forbid there’s a serious incident of spreading the disease, it doesn’t do well for anybody who’s involved with sports.”
UFC 249, which is headlined by an interim lightweight title fight featuring Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson, is set to take place on May 9. White has pledged that all postponed events will be rescheduled for future dates.