Conor McGregor may have sent the Ultimate Fighting Championship scrambling in search of a new headliner for its bicentennial event with his Twitter retirement, but Dana White insists that he and “The Notorious” Irishman are still on good terms.
“I swear to God I’m not mad even a little bit,” White said during an appearance on "The Herd” Wednesday. “I had a pretty smooth day yesterday. It’s UFC 200. It’s a massive fight. I’ve have 600 people on the roster who want to fight on this card. Believe me, when Conor went out, 10 other people called asking to go in. Plenty of people want to fight on this card; it’s going to be a massive event. It’s still a big fight. No, I’m not mad at all.”
When McGregor dropped his “Catch ya’s later” bomb yesterday, speculation ran rampant regarding the UFC champion’s motives. While many still believe that, regardless of his reason, McGregor is pulling the strings in this standoff, White went on SportsCenter later on Tuesday to do some damage control. There he claimed that McGregor was “pulled” from the main event against Nate Diaz because he refused to fulfill his promotional obligations.
White reiterated that claim on Wednesday, comparing the McGregor situation to when Nick Diaz skipped consecutive press conferences prior to a scheduled UFC 137 showdown against Georges St. Pierre. Diaz was removed from the title bout and replaced by Carlos Condit. Ultimately, St. Pierre got hurt and Diaz ended up headlining the card against original Condit opponent B.J. Penn. Still, a precedent was set in 2011.
“So Conor basically had said that he didn’t want to come to Las Vegas. We had a tour planned. We were going to start in Las Vegas, then we were going to Stockton and then New York. And then he could go back to Iceland where he is right now. He said, ‘I don’t want to do it, I’m not gonna come,” White said.
“I was saying, you have to come. The history of us in the UFC is there’s been one time that a guy hasn’t shown up for his press conference and it was [Nick] Diaz vs. GSP. I pulled Nick Diaz from the the fight. You can’t not show up to promote your fight. You can’t do it. That’s where we ended up.”
Even prior to some of his recent fights, there have been rumors of friction between the UFC and McGregor. Despite the star fighter’s exit from UFC 200, White insists that both parties are on good terms.
“Our relationship isn’t damaged at all,” he said. “I can tell you this: Conor was making a lot of money for this fight. It’s not like I’m asking Conor to come out here and do something none of the other fighters are doing. All the other fighters are showing up and doing it. And it’s not like this is three weeks before his fight. His fight isn’t for three months. So Conor at the end of the day for whatever reason he freaked out about this. He’s a very reasonable guy, a smart guy. He likes money. This is weird.”
White also shot down the notion that McGregor’s “retire young” tweet was a negotiating tactic. Money isn’t an issue, at least according to the UFC boss.
“That’s false. That’s the problem with the internet. You have all these hacks out there that just make stuff up for clicks. Never, ever, was this about money,” White said. “Conor makes a lot of money and Conor is very happy with the money he makes. And Conor for the most part is a standup guy. He’s never come back after agreeing on a deal and then the fight’s announced and he comes back for more money. Conor’s not that type of person.”
During the interview, White left the door open for Conor to compete at UFC 200 should the Dublin native have a change of heart. For now, White isn’t sure when he’ll talk to the featherweight champion again, but he doesn’t consider McGregor’s retirement to be set in stone. With all the money invested the landmark event, the show must go on, with or without its biggest star.
“I don’t know [when I’ll talk to him again]. We’ll see how this thing plays out, but I’m not mad at Conor,” White said. “Obviously Conor made a decision and made a choice to not fight on this card. That’s how he gets paid, so that’s on him. That’s not on me. The show will roll on.
“You have to be here to promote your fight. And you have to be here to shoot this commercial. We’re spending $10 million in promotion for UFC 200. All that money is in motion. You can’t do this. I don’t care who you are.”