MANILA, Philippines—Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has started laying out the groundwork for Top Rank’s future events as the sports world prepares for the new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Top Rank plans to stage its cards in the United States in early June and steadily through the next few months without fans in attendance, like what UFC did in its first fight night since the pandemic broke.
Arum said UFC 249 “wasn’t bad” first step as sports events around the world try to return to regular programming by following precautionary measures against the disease.
The event, held behind closed doors at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, saw Justin Gaethje win the interim lightweight title against Tony Ferguson.
But Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza tested positive for COVID-19 along with two of his cornermen, prompting UFC to cancel his scheduled fight.
“What happened on Saturday (with Souza’s COVID-positive test being learned the day before the fight night) will never happen on our shows,” said Arum in the report on Boxingscene.com. “It will be detected before they even get in the facility.”
“That has to be done and will be done. We’re talking about four fights to start out, the fewer the fights you have, the better you can control things.”
Arum, though, praised UFC for what it has done with the 249 pay-per-view.
“They were the first ones to come back and with that will come certain mistakes. It wouldn’t be fair to criticize with it being the first one out of the box, nor am I here to criticize them,” said