Dana White blames Conor McGregor delay on money

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – To hear Dana White tell it, everything is peachy keen between the UFC and Conor McGregor. But is it really?

McGregor returned to the UFC – on television, at least – last year when he coached Season 31 of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Michael Chandler, with the expectation that the two would fight shortly thereafter. Historically, the coaches typically fight each other within a month or two of the show’s airing.

But “TUF 31” wrapped up in August 2023, and McGregor’s return doesn’t appear imminent. White recently said he’s “hoping for the fall” for his return, even though McGregor said before that be on the International Fight Week pay-per-view lineup, set for June 29 in Las Vegas.

So what’s the holdup?

“First problem was that he broke that shin bone. He was recovering from that. That was one of the reasons,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, during Saturday’s UFC 298 post-event news conference. “The other problem is he’s f*cking rich.”

To White’s first point, McGregor removed himself from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s testing pool last year while it still oversaw the promotion’s drug-testing program. McGregor’s health since breaking his leg in July 2021 – in an injury TKO loss to Dustin Poirier – no longer appears to be an issue, though. He’s shared numerous videos of himself training in recent months. McGregor even said he was hoping to headline UFC 300 in April.

As for White’s second point about McGregor being “f*cking rich,” the UFC CEO wasn’t clear on how exactly that’s affecting the promotion’s ability to reach a deal with its biggest star. White alluded to upcoming obligations McGregor has to promote the “Road House” remake, in which he appears opposite starring lead Jake Gyllenhaal, an Oscar nominee.

“I don’t know. Conor McGregor’s got a lot of money. Any time we get Conor, we’ll be happy. You know, we’ll be thrilled when he comes and fights,” White said. “Money complicates a lot of things. He just filmed a movie. He’s got to do the press for the movie, and he’s got obligations with that. He does want to fight this year, but we’ll see what happens.”

McGregor has two fights remaining on his UFC contract. When asked if trying to get McGregor to sign a new contract with more fights was an issue, White only sang the former two-division champion’s praises in dealing with him throughout his career.

“Conor McGregor has probably been one of the best business partners we’ve ever had,” White said. “Getting Conor to show up to sh*t on time is a problem. But Conor, as far as the business goes, everybody talks about how Conor used to be on the dole and all this stuff. For a guy that was on the dole, Conor McGregor is a very good business man, and Conor McGregor has always been a great partner to us. There’s never any hanging out and haggling for money or, you know, ‘You pay me more money.’ Conor McGregor has never done anything even remotely close to that. It’s the exact opposite.

“When it’s time to dig in and get to work and make money, he’s probably the most incredible partner we’ve ever had to be honest with you.”

So, again, what’s the holdup?

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

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