What’s the best way to get an ancient boxing promoter to go off on a hilariously offensive rant about MMA? Send a young whippersnapper like Ariel Helwani to a press conference with a microphone and a shirt without a tie, then have him just mention the UFC and watch the bullshit fly. Following up on Dana White’s shot at the boxing world this week, Arum comes right back with his own attack on MMA, calling it a sport for skinheads who like to see homosexuals rolling around the mat together. That he said this to Helwani, an ardent MMA-lover who happens to have a shaved head but who also happens to be Jewish (and married, to some poor woman, no less), is what we’re going to go ahead and call poetic justice.
Arum goes on to level all the usual accusations against MMA. He says the fighters can’t throw a punch or take one, that the audience is all redneck white guys, that the UFC isn’t selling nearly as many pay-per-views as they claim, and that the Charleston will never go out of style (that last one may have just been implied, but you get the point). Basically it’s nothing you haven’t heard during Thanksgiving dinner at your grandfather’s house, only Arum stops just short of calling the internet a form of black magic.
Of course, he’s wrong about MMA only having white fans, just like he’s wrong about MMA fighters being just a bunch of white dudes with tattoos. But that’s to be expected.
Bob Arum is 77 years old. The sport he’s promoting is losing ground to something he doesn’t like or understand, and when he’s confronted with what should be a simple question — will the winner of this big fight face the winner of that other big fight? — the best answer he can come up with is, probably not, I don’t know, it depends on who wins.
That’s boxing’s big problem. Like DW said, they can’t/won’t give their fans what they want. Instead they keep throwing fights together that nobody is really dying to see and hoping that what the bout lacks in fan anticipation can be made up for with promoter hype. That’s why boxing is struggling and MMA is thriving. It’s not because the skinheads have taken over and, as skinheads are known to do, immediately supplanted real violence with homo-erotic performance art. It’s because guys like Arum think they can tell fans what they want to see.
And, okay fine, also because we’re all a bunch of racists who somehow also love simulated gay sex so much that we’ll pay $49.95 to see it once a month. There it is. God, it actually feels kind of good to get that off my chest. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go call my dad and tell him something.