UFC President Dana White Says Without Him, Conor McGregor Would Not Be a Global Megastar…
Conor McGregor once modestly described himself as the hardest working fighter on the entire roster of the UFC. Who can forget when he won the International Fighter of the Year award in 2016? Unable to be at the ceremony in person, he gave his acceptance speech by video, ending with the immortal words, “So thank you and thank me.”
His rise in the UFC was remarkable. In his second fight in Boston against Max Holloway, the support was so great you would have been forgiven for thinking that he was fighting in the main event. Since then he’s gone on to win two UFC titles and fought Floyd Mayweather in a contest that grossed the second highest number of pay-per-view buys ever sold.
So good work Conor? Not quite according to Dana White. The UFC President is more than happy to try and take credit for the divisive Irishman’s rise. In a deposition for the UFC’s ongoing anti-trust lawsuit, White made his feelings very clear.
White and McGregor have had an up-and-down relationship. This has much to do with the UFC struggling to control the Irishman who has often been a loose cannon, albeit a very lucrative one. White said:
“Four years ago, Conor McGregor was available to everybody. Bellator, ONE FC, UFC, everybody out there. Do you know who went out- he was- he was 7 and 2, Okay? Guy’s record was 7 and 2 (Editor’s note: McGregor was 12-2 and a two-weight world champ already). There’s a zillion of them, right? I went out and got Conor McGregor. I saw him, I liked his personality, and I turned him into a star, one of the biggest stars on earth right.”
White’s statement is misleading. When he approached McGregor, the Irishman was already a double world champion under the Cage Warriors banner in Europe. He also had a significant and loud fanbase who were part of the reason that the UFC signed him up in the first place.
The UFC president’s words make it look like McGregor was just another talent with the potential to be something. McGregor had already laid the foundations in place for his rise. Then he trash-talked and fought his way to the top of the featherweight division. Arguably, the best thing the UFC did for him was not to hold him back.
Let’s not forget that McGregor and White have had run-ins in the past. He was pulled from the UFC 200 card after going to Iceland instead of attending a press conference. What’s more, is that the massively lucrative fight against Floyd Mayweather was pushed by McGregor, not White. The latter was outspokenly against it at the beginning.
There’s a definite feeling that the UFC is facing a definitive moment. The company has no reliable major star to build their brand behind as McGregor enjoys his $100 million and Ronda Rousey has left for pastures new.
Their deal with Fox expires soon as well. Furthermore, talk of a fighter’s union is starting to become real with Al Iaquinta as become interim secretary and treasurer for the potential organization. Interesting times lie ahead for Dana White.