Despite the rift that saw Conor McGregor pulled from his upcoming fight against Nate Diaz, UFC president Dana White doesn’t buy that the featherweight champion is actually retired but he won’t be fighting at UFC 200.
White appeared on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday where he explained the situation that led to McGregor getting yanked from the biggest card of the year and then declaring that he was retiring from the sport.
“Conor McGregor had basically said that he didn’t want to come to Las Vegas,” White explained. “We had a tour planned. We were going to start in Las Vegas, we were then going to go 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 don’t want to come’ and I was basically saying you have to come. In the history of us owning the UFC, there’s been one time that a guy hasn’t shown up for his press conference and it was (Nick) Diaz versus GSP and I pulled (Nick) Diaz from the fight.
“You can’t not show up to promote your fight. You can’t do it. That’s where we ended up.”
According to White, he dealt directly with McGregor’s management team at Paradigm Sports Management when this situation first started to unfold.
White admitted that McGregor’s team was open to doing the press commitments but asked that everything get pushed back to May rather than this week during UFC 197. In fact, White said McGregor could still fight at UFC 200 — if he was willing to travel to Las Vegas to promote his fight this week.
“Yeah if he called me after this interview, we’d probably still do it. The problem is this — the whole problem with this whole thing is, you have to be here to promote your fight and you have to shoot this commercial. We’re spending like $10 million in promotion for UFC 200 and all that money is in motion. You can’t do this. I don’t care who you are or how big you are, you can’t do this.
“It never got combative and I was talking to his manager. They were asking let’s move all this stuff to May. You can’t move it. This stuff is in motion.”
Never, ever was this about money. It was never about money.
— Dana White
McGregor was in Iceland training with his teammates when he made the decision to retire after refusing to travel to Las Vegas to promote the upcoming fight.
McGregor is also less than two weeks removed from a fight that took place in Ireland where a young Portuguese fighter named Joao Carvalho died after suffering injuries during the bout. McGregor was sitting cage side for the fight coaching his teammate who fought Carvalho and in the immediate aftermath, it was clear he was grief stricken by the event.
Whatever the catalyst was that kept McGregor from turning on the bluster and promoting his fight against Diaz, it was serious enough that he took a stand and refused to travel to Las Vegas this week.
White did manage to squash one rumor about McGregor’s exit from UFC 200 being precipitated by his demand for more money.
“Not a money issue, that’s false,” White said. “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. It was never about money.
“Conor makes a lot of money and Conor’s happy with the money he makes. Conor for the most part is a stand up 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 guy.”
As far as the future goes, White promises his relationship with McGregor hasn’t been frayed and he fully expects the featherweight champion to return to the UFC by the end of the year despite his proclamation that he’s retired.
“I do not (believe he’s retired). I do (believe he’ll fight by the next year),” White said. “I’m not mad at Conor. Obviously, Conor made a decision and made a choice to not want to fight on this card and that’s how he gets paid. That’s on him, man, that’s not on me. The show will roll on.
“Any fan of the UFC knows it’s only happened one time before and Nick Diaz, I pulled Nick Diaz from that fight. Everybody likes to talk about how I coddle Conor and I baby Conor and Conor can do whatever he wants and all this stuff. No, you can’t. Believe me, we do give Conor a lot of leeway because Conor delivers. Conor delivers. But he wasn’t planning on delivering this weekend and I had to pull him. It’s what had to be done.”