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 12 months.
The connection between the UFC and McGregor began off on a excessive observe in 2020, as McGregor headlined the UFC 246 pay-per-view in opposition to Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Jan. 18. He knocked out Cerrone in just 40 seconds. McGregor had stated he supposed to remain energetic with three fights in 2020, however it finally ended up being his solely look of the 12 months.
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 released screenshots of private messages with White, displaying he’d prompt a number of dates and opponents for fights in 2020. McGregor’s solutions did not come to fruition for a large number of causes, ranging wherever from venue availability, scheduling, the COVID-19 pandemic and a disagreement on one among 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 in opposition to pairing these two final 12 months.
“We had 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 personal messages. We had been speaking about one other fighter. And I like Diego Sanchez. I’ve quite a lot of respect for Diego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. I talked to Diego face-to-face about it, and being the nice 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 may shake out as one of many largest years of the Irish famous person’s profession.
It has been 4 years since McGregor fought greater than as soon as in a single calendar 12 months, nevertheless White is hopeful that streak will snap in 2021. In keeping with White, he believes the Irish star’s motivation and focus are much like what they had 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 take a seat down with Khabib Nurmagomedov to probably persuade him to take one closing 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 proper place. And you’ll inform when he’s and when he is not, and proper now, he is in. My conversations with Conor, I do know when the actual Conor is right here and the opposite Conor is right here, and imagine me once I inform you, the actual 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’ll be, ‘Who’s prepared? Who you bought? I’ll the health club, inform me who’s displaying up on Saturday.’ He is that man proper now. That Conor McGregor is again.”
And if McGregor beats Poirier at UFC 257 and maintains that stage of focus, White wish to see him vie for the light-weight championship in his subsequent bout.
“The best way this child is correct now, mentally, bodily, emotionally, this child is on and able to struggle,” White stated. “I’d like to see him concentrate on what he can do right here within the UFC, whether or not that is take one other shot on the title in opposition to Khabib or struggle for the title in opposition to anyone else if Khabib retires, and defend that title.”
White stated he is additionally seeking to e-book Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington within the the “subsequent months.” And he isn’t against TJ Dillashaw combating for a title in his first bout again from a drug-related suspension, which ends in February. So 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 may 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.
However first up is the return of McGregor, and White — who’s not concerned about McGregor pursuing one other profitable boxing match anytime quickly — is happy to see the most important star in UFC historical past again in motion.
“He is hitting me up and asking me questions concerning the structure of the sector, the walk-in, all all these issues that he is concerned about understanding about proper now,” White stated. “He is all in on this factor.”