UFC president Dana White says his relationship with Conor McGregor is strong going into 2021, after hitting a “unhealthy place” within the second half of final yr.
The relationship between the UFC and McGregor began off on a excessive word in 2020, as McGregor headlined the UFC 246 pay-per-view towards Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Jan. 18. He knocked out Cerrone in simply 40 seconds. McGregor had stated he meant to remain lively with three fights in 2020, nevertheless it in the end ended up being his solely look of the yr.
That lack of exercise led McGregor to announce on social media on June 7 that he was retiring, though few anticipated that to final.
In September, a disgruntled McGregor launched screenshots of personal messages with White, displaying he’d advised a number of dates and opponents for fights in 2020. McGregor’s ideas didn’t come to fruition for a large number of causes, ranging wherever from venue availability, scheduling, the COVID-19 pandemic and a disagreement on one in all McGregor’s proposed opponents.
White, who referred to McGregor’s actions as “one of many dirtiest issues you are able to do” on the time, stated the connection has since been repaired, and stated he was most bothered by McGregor pulling UFC veteran Diego Sanchez into the back-and-forth, by revealing the UFC was towards pairing these two final yr.
“We have been in a extremely unhealthy place then, I used to be actually upset,” White stated. “It wasn’t as a result of he put out non-public messages. We have been speaking about one other fighter. And I like Diego Sanchez. I’ve loads of respect for Diego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. I talked to Diego face-to-face about it, and being the good human being he’s, we’re all good.
“I used to be actually upset with Conor, however we mounted that and now we’re all good.”
If the UFC and McGregor proceed to work on the identical web page, 2021 might shake out as one of many largest years of the Irish celebrity’s profession.
It’s been 4 years since McGregor fought greater than as soon as in a single calendar yr, nevertheless White is hopeful that streak will snap in 2021. According to White, he believes the Irish star’s motivation and focus are just like what they have been in 2016, when he fought 3 times and claimed his second UFC championship by defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
Dana White tells Brett Okamoto that he intends to sit down down with Khabib Nurmagomedov to probably persuade him to take one ultimate struggle.
“The questions are at all times, ‘This man is so wealthy, how hungry is he?” White stated. “There’s nothing extra thrilling or enjoyable than a motivated Conor McGregor, when his head is in the fitting place. And you may inform when he’s and when he is not, and proper now, he is in. My conversations with Conor, I do know when the true Conor is right here and the opposite Conor is right here, and consider me once I let you know, the true Conor is right here.
“If one thing occurred to Dustin Poirier, he’s the Conor McGregor proper now that does not give a s— who we put in that struggle. He’s going to be, ‘Who’s prepared? Who you bought? I’m going to the health club, inform me who’s displaying up on Saturday.’ He’s that man proper now. That Conor McGregor is again.”
And if McGregor beats Poirier at UFC 257 and maintains that degree of focus, White want to see him vie for the light-weight championship in his subsequent bout.
“The method this child is correct now, mentally, bodily, emotionally, this child is on and able to struggle,” White stated. “I might like to see him give attention to what he can do right here within the UFC, whether or not that is take one other shot on the title towards Khabib or struggle for the title towards any individual else if Khabib retires, and defend that title.”
White stated he is additionally trying to e book Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington within the the “subsequent months.” And he isn’t against TJ Dillashaw preventing for a title in his first bout again from a drug-related suspension, which ends in February. As far as strawweight champion Zhang Weili, White stated it is nonetheless seemingly she’ll struggle Rose Namajunas or Carla Esparza within the first quarter of 2021, and he stated that struggle might happen in Asia. Zhang is the UFC’s first and solely champion from China. White additionally stated he is contemplating playing cards in Florida and Texas. There are much less restrictive pointers in place for followers in these states.
But first up is the return of McGregor, and White — who’s not serious about McGregor pursuing one other profitable boxing match anytime quickly — is worked up to see the largest star in UFC historical past again in motion.
“He’s hitting me up and asking me questions concerning the structure of the world, the walk-in, all a majority of these issues that he is serious about figuring out about proper now,” White stated. “He’s all in on this factor.”