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UFC: Power Games And The Return Of The King

So the UFC 200 saga continues….

In the early hours of this morning Conor McGregor took to Twitter to announce to the world that he has been re-instated on the UFC 200 card, much to the joy and relief of fans around the world. However, since the announcement has been made, no confirmation has come from either Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta or the UFC.

It seems that in the wake of UFC 197 McGregor feels that now is the time to make what is surely his last chance to force the UFC president’s hand in a bid to be re-instated onto the bumper card.

The tactics that the ‘Notorious One’ is now implementing may be deemed as borderline desperate as he effectively goes ‘all-in’ to salvage his headline spot for July 9.

The position in which this leaves Dana White and Co. is an interesting one as the ball is firmly in their court and the next move that is made will have long-term connotations on not only the relationship between Conor and the UFC, but surely how the UFC roster will view their own standing within the promotion.

McGregor has somewhat backed White and Fertitta into a corner; with fans amassing and calling for McGregor to headline the event, the large majority of fighters taking to Twitter to voice their support for such a decision and even opponent Nate Diaz stating that he will not fight at UFC 200 unless it is McGregor that he will be facing; it would seem to be the obvious choice for the UFC.

However, at the presser last Friday night we saw a very low-key Dana White as compared to the one who dealt with similar unruly fighters in the past (i.e Tito Ortiz, Josh Koscheck), taking the moral high ground in what many pundits consider an attempt to keep his cash cow on the same side in a keep-your-enemies-closer type of approach.

While Dana can be quoted in the past as saying that McGregor has taken on three times the promotional workload as compared to most other fighters, he hasn’t been as understanding with McGregor’s recent request to remain in training as opposed to fulfilling his media obligations.

Raising the issue of fairness on fellow fighters, White was unwavering in his view that media obligations are part and parcel of the duties that a fighter within the UFC must perform, especially when a budget of $10 million dollars has been allocated.

Following McGregor’s activities last week it is clear to see that he has not only saved the organisation the $10 million, but has provided them with a return in value threefold of that which would have been generated with the pre-planned media tour.

The question now on every fight-fan’s mind is what the UFC will do next.

A UFC 200 with McGregor as the headliner may very well be seen as a serious blow to Dana White’s ego and even authority within the promotion.

Dana White

With McGregor’s power-plays succeeding it would be a considerable shift in negotiating power between the Irishman and the company which would have a lasting effect moving forward as the ‘pay-per-view king’s’ stock would eclipse that of any other fighter, providing him with a platform on par to that of company officials.

However, if the promotion were to hold firm on their position and we don’t see McGregor in July this would leave McGregor’s reputation in dispute, causing serious damage to his credibility and image. While it is arguably the fair decision by the UFC from the viewpoint of fighters, it is perhaps not the smart one.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 12: Conor McGregor speaks at a post-fight press conference after beating Jose Aldo in their featherweight title fight during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor won with a first-round knockout. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

McGregor is the key for the big money cards for the UFC and for their future growth. Last weekend’s 197 card was testament to this, as it paled in comparison to its predecessor in terms of revenue, albeit with the return of arguably the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones.

In the meantime, perhaps we should not take McGregor’s tweet at face value based on recent behaviour. However, the statements expected to come from Las Vegas within the next few hours will tell us a lot about not just the standards that the UFC abide by, but also where the power lies within the organisation.

Money doesn’t talk, it swears obscenity.

About Conor Malone

21 year old University College Cork student with a diverse interest across the sporting spectrum. Proud holder of an Under 11 All-Ireland football medal and 2001 Street Leagues runner-up. Swipe right if interested.......?