Top Rank Boxing CEO Bob Arum recently took a handful of swipes at the UFC, claiming not only that the promotion is paying off lobbyists to avoid added government regulation but also that drug use in the sport far outweighed that of boxing.
As you can imagine, fiery UFC President Dana White didn’t take too kindly to the digs.
“Does anyone give a (expletive) about Bob Arum or what he thinks?” White texted MMAjunkie when contacted for comment. “I didn’t know he was still alive!!?”
Earlier this week, the 84-year-old Arum spoke to the media at a press conference in Las Vegas ahead of of Saturday’s Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol pay-per-view event from MGM Grand Garden Arena.
When asked about the state of drug testing in combat sports, Arum – who has long been outspoken on his disdain for MMA – took the opportunity to slam the sport as a whole while also weighing in on a few key controversies currently affecting the UFC.
“I don’t think (drug testing) is particularly necessary as far as fighters are concerned,” Arum said. “Most fighters obey the rules. It’s probably more necessary in MMA because they appear to be unconcerned with the testing. What the hell? As long as the tests come out after the fight, right? Everybody’s collecting money. Just saying. just saying.
“You’ve got MMA, just sold for billions of dollars. Good luck to them. And for some reason they can buy off lobbyists so they’re not subject to the Muhammad Ali Act like promoters are in boxing – just saying.”
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, enacted in 2000, has been at the center of discussion in recent months, as Oklahoma congressman Markwayne Mullin in May introduced the Muhammad Ali Expansion Act as a way of extending the federal regulations to MMA, as well.
UFC officials previously told MMAjunkie that while they do not necessarily stand in opposition to the introduction of federal regulation as a means of protecting fighters and governing business practices in the sport, they do not believe Mullin’s bill is the right play.
“We believed, and continue to believe, that regulation is pivotal to the legitimacy and continued growth of MMA by providing it with the respect and structure needed to make it part of the permanent sports landscape,” UFC COO Lawrence Epstein previously wrote to MMAjunkie as part of a longer statement. “As such, we don’t oppose thoughtful federal regulation if it’s going to improve the health and safety of MMA athletes and strengthen the sport. The Mullin bill does neither.”
Meanwhile, drug testing is also a massive story in the sport right now, as the UFC has enacted an incredibly comprehensive testing program headed up by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). But the increasing number of positive tests has certainly led to some alarm, and certain cases in particular – such as Brock Lesnar, who failed a pre-fight test, the results of which were not available until after his UFC 200 win over Mark Hunt – have left questions surrounding the execution of the aggressive program, which USADA calls “the most comprehensive in all of sport.”
Thus far, UFC officials have declined to comment on the specifics of the individual cases involved, instead leaving it to USADA “to handle the results management and appropriate adjudication” of each case.
Arum went on to bash “this great intellectual analyst” White for recently speaking in support of Donald Trump at the Republic National Convention and suggesting that MMA audiences were less culturally diverse than boxing crowds, and thus likely supporters of Trump.
“In boxing, we have a lot of minorities, African-American, Hispanics, Jewish promoters, people like that,” Arum said. “And pretty much, we’re Democrats. MMA people they’re for Trump. You ever look at an MMA audience? Of course they’re for Trump.”
White blasted Arum in reply, pointing to an interview some 10 years ago in which the boxing promoter predicted the UFC’s demise – a promotion which, of course, recently sold for $4 billion.
White, who will remain on as UFC President despite the transaction, said he’ll take pride in watching the UFC continue to grow in the combat sports landscape in the years to come, especially if it comes at Arum’s expense.
“I remember a bitter, fat, red, alcohol-abuse-faced Arum chirping about the ‘oodles of money’ the Fertittas were going to lose on the UFC,” White said. “Arum is the biggest dirtbag in all of sports. I look forward to sticking around and continuing to kick his ass in every aspect of our business.”