Dana White on Relationship with Conor McGregor: ‘There’s a Mutual Respect Between Us’

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 8, 2018


Conor McGregor did his best to ruin UFC 223 when he attacked a charter bus transporting fighters from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Thursday. As a result, his immediate future with the Las Vegas-based promotion is uncertain, at best.

McGregor was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief for his actions, which included throwing a dolly at the bus window, shattering glass and injuring UFC fighters Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg, as well as a company employee.

McGregor posted $50,000 bail and is set to return to court for his next hearing on June 14. UFC President Dana White said he has spoken with the Irish star since then in order to help mend their relationship.

“We talked. It’s good,” White said at the UFC 223 post-fight presser. “I think that there’s a mutual respect between us and obviously this week, I had so many things thrown at me. To focus on this show was insane. We’ll get back and we’ll focus on Conor McGregor.

That incident alone resulted in the loss of three bouts from the card, as Chiesa and Borg were forced to withdraw due to injuries suffered during the attack, and Artem Lobov, McGregor’s teammate at SGB Ireland, was pulled from the event for his role in the melee.

Initially, White didn’t expect McGregor to attend UFC 223, despite the fact that the winner of the event would be crowned as the undisputed lightweight champion. However, after Khabib Nurmagomedov had an altercation with Lobov earlier in the week, McGregor and his entourage took a flight to the United States with designs on getting revenge.

“He didn’t come to New York to do anything with me,” White said. “He jumped on a plane with all those guys for the Khabib thing. He came to New York for Khabib.

“I didn’t even know Conor was here. It was this thing where a couple guys at the [pre-fight] press conference acted like he was coming here.”

McGregor hasn’t competed in the Octagon since winning lightweight gold with a second-round stoppage of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016. In the meantime, he reportedly banked more than $100 million for a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather this past August. Both the UFC and McGregor have mentioned ongoing negotiations since then, but nothing had come to fruition. The events of last week make it more difficult to determine when McGregor will be able to return.

“We had talked about him fighting in September,” White said. “I don’t know. You can’t ask me anything about Conor. I don’t know anything. I haven’t thought about it. There’s nothing to think about this week except for the event.”

There was more than just the McGregor incident that affected UFC 223. A scheduled championship showdown between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson became Nurmagomedov vs. Max Holloway six days before the event. One day before the card, Holloway was deemed medically unfit to compete due to a strenuous weight cut, and Nurmagomedov was instead paired with Al Iaquinta, who was originally supposed to face Paul Felder. When all was said and done, Nurmagomedov emerged as the promotion’s new lightweight champion, and White could breathe a sigh of relief that the event, all things considered, was a success.

“In a perfect world it’d be great if Conor didn’t show up and do that,” White said. “Obviously, I didn’t see that coming or I would’ve tried very hard to prevent that. We broke the arena record for the highest gross. And we broke our own record. We didn’t just break it, we blew it out of the water. We beat it by almost $1 million. And the pay-per-views were great too.

“What happened, happened. We can’t change that,” he added. “People say to me, ‘This looks so bad for the sport.’ I agree it doesn’t look good. At the end of the day, there’s a lot worse that goes on in all the other sports. I’ll take a dolly to the window any day.”

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