When Conor McGregor revealed at the UFC 205 post-fight press conference that the promotion’s new owners, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell of talent agency WME-IMG, had yet to meet with him in order to discuss business and his future with the company, most people were left a tad perplexed.
It seemed bizarre that Emanuel and Whitesell had neglected to do so. McGregor is undoubtedly their new company’s hottest commodity, after all, and 2016 had seen the 28-year-old top every one of the UFC’s three most lucrative events.
When he spoke with Clare McNamara of RTE television recently, McGregor once again stressed that he was interested in meeting with the pair.
“I expect them to fly that jet to me,” said ‘The Notorious’ Irishman, shortly before he was presented with the RTE Sportsperson of the Year award. “Ari, Patrick, the new owners from WME-IMG, the guys that bought the UFC for $4 billion, I want to speak to them.”
“I want to see what their plan is. Because right now I don’t know what nobody’s plan is.”
Conor McGregor talks to Clare McNamara after a year which he call the 'culmination of his life's work'. https://t.co/0AY8QPqGyu
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) December 17, 2016
Several months on from that UFC 205 presser and the meeting obviously still hadn’t happened.
However, while most people continue to wonder and question why the WME-IMG head-honchos have snubbed McGregor, former UFC middleweight and light-heavyweight title challenger Chael Sonnen, who recently signed with the UFC’s rival promotion Bellator MMA, thinks that the SBG fighter is making a big deal out of nothing.
According to Sonnen, Emanuel, Whitesell and UFC president Dana White have more important things to focus on than McGregor, like their planned move into the Russian market.
“Man, pick up a phone and send a text message,” Sonnen said during a recent episode of his podcast. “At some point, there’s only 24-hours in a day, no matter who you are, Dana and Ari Emanuel are in Russia right now meeting with leaders of the Kremlin. They are running business and moving this thing forward. Is everything supposed to stop so they can talk to a fighter?(Transcription via BloodyElbow)”
“At some point, you sit there and hash out a contract, but when a contract is done, that’s it! It has got an expiration date, typically 15-18 months. We don’t need to talk again! I can’t be sitting around just talking to my talent who I have locked up in my contract.”
“People say they ‘well I want to talk’, or ‘I want a piece’, well you’ve got a contract! That’s the game. Be on top! Have leverage when that contract is up.”
“I end up sounding like I’m corporate, and I’m against the boys. But there is a push and a pull here. There is a time and a place. Every time you gain a little momentum, you don’t get to just go in and redo a contract that you signed and gave your word.”
“[Bellator MMA president Scott Coker] can’t sit down and talk with everyone. He just can’t. He’s got to have Rich Chou and his team to do this. Same thing goes with Dana White. You want to talk with Dana? Man, there’s not enough hours in a day. Send him a text message, he will get back to you.”
“Guys are bitching because they can’t get a conversation? C’mon man! That’s boyfriend-girlfriend talk right there. ‘I’m not getting enough attention.’ That’s boyfriend-girlfriend talk. This is business.”
Part of the reason that McGregor is so determined to talk with Emanuel and Whitesell is that he is interested in discussing the possibility of acquiring equity in the UFC, a fact which he revealed at the aforementioned UFC 205 press event. Perhaps this is the very reason why the pair are so reluctant to meet with the ambitious Dubliner.