UFC president Dana White does not seem to follow the trend of fighters and analysts who believe that the UFC 257 main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier should be for the UFC lightweight championship.
White has even dismissed the possibility of the bout being for the interim belt. There are many reasons the UFC boss believes it is not yet the time to make a new lightweight champion. The prospect of a title rematch between McGregor and reigning champ Khabib Nurmagomedov being the most logical.
White wants the retired UFC lightweight champion to resume his MMA career within the promotion. Yet, while White offers almost everything he can to change Nurmagomedov’s mind, the Dagestani grappler seems to be convinced of his decision.
With Nurmagomedov, White could be displaying the biggest passion as a fan of the sport, genuinely wanting him to return for sporting reasons – Nurmagomedov is considered by many as one of the best mixed martial artists ever. But with McGregor, the talk is different.
The Irishman is also a super skilled fighter. Nobody achieves what he did just by being famous. But McGregor is, by far, the biggest cash cow of the UFC, so keeping him in the fight card is White’s main objective as the UFC president.
McGregor has transcended the MMA world. ‘The Notorious’ made his brand so powerful that he can cherry-pick his fights – even outside of the UFC, like when he fought Floyd Mayweather. He is now interested in facing another boxing legend, Manny Pacquiao.
The Filipino pugilist has already expressed his wish to fight McGregor, and their manager said that he would be “shocked” if the fight did not happen in 2021.
But before that, McGregor has to enter the octagon again. It would be unwise for White to concede the opportunity for McGregor to capture the UFC lightweight title on this occasion so easily. Because right now, the belt might be White’s only leverage to hold the Irishman’s interest in the company.
If White says that the winner of McGregor versus Dustin Poirier will have a title fight, then it is a different story. The UFC president could keep McGregor for one more bout for 2021 – and one that the Irishman most certainly would be contending.
Besides hoping that McGregor passes through Poirier, White’s main challenge is to make the title fight appealing for the public and for ‘The Notorious.’ Bringing Nurmagomedov for a rematch would be ideal, but it seems unfeasible at the moment.
A possible bout between Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira has been gaining some traction, while Michael Chandler versus Dan Hooker is already booked. Although less likely, Tony Ferguson and Islam Makhachev are other names featured in the title picture.
There are a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in White’s plan. But right now, it seems to be the only logical thing to do from a business point of view. And White does not need to worry if it is worth the risk – another McGregor title fight would easily show him that it was.
When is the fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier?
Conor McGregor will enter the octagon on January 23 to rematch Dustin Poirier in a UFC lightweight bout that has been highly anticipated by MMA fans.
The UFC 257 main event has been promoted as a No. 1 contender bout as the winner is likely to go straight for a title fight.
UFC 257 will be the principal event of the triple-header fight week that the company is promoting in Abu Dhabi. The other two Fight Night events will have Max Holloway versus Calvin Kattar and Michael Chiesa versus Neil Magny as their respective night’s central attractions.
Published 13 Jan 2021, 04:21 IST