UFC president Dana White has said it time and time again; the reason that he respects Conor McGregor so much and treats him differently to just about every other fighter on the UFC roster has a lot to do with the Irishman’s reckless willingness to fight whomever is suggested to him regardless of the circumstances.
When UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo pulled out of a scheduled bout with McGregor back in the summer of 2015, ‘The Notorious’ SBG Ireland product didn’t have any hesitation in fighting Chad Mendes, a man considered to be a stylistic nightmare for him at the time, on short-notice.
Fast-forward nine months or so, and McGregor, fresh off a 13-second KO of Aldo, was scheduled to challenge then lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. However, the Brazilian withdrew just days in advance due to a foot injury. Instead of pulling out and waiting for ‘RDA’ to recover, McGregor accepted an ill-fated short-notice showdown with Nate Diaz up at welterweight.
“I respect this guy so much as a fighter, and there’s give and take in this business,” White told Jim Rome late last year. “It just can’t be take, take on either side. There’s give and take in every relationship. This guy has given, given, given; when we’re looking down the barrel of a fight being cancelled, this guy steps up and takes any type of fight. He deserves something back. So when he wants something, there’s give and take, and I do it. A lot of these guys want, want, want, but don’t want to give back in return. So it’s that kind of relationship(transcription via BloodyElbow).”
During a recent appearance on GGN News with Snoop Dogg, White reiterated these sentiments once again but he also told a story which suggests that McGregor believes his gung-ho attitude should be the norm.
In March of this year, the saliva of MMA fans caused slipping hazards worldwide as the mouth-watering interim lightweight title fight between 155-pound boogie-men Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 209 drew close. However, the fight dramatically and oh-so disappointingly fell apart at the last-minute, as a severe weight-cut caused Nurmagomedov to be hospitalized the morning before the bout.
In the aftermath of the Russian’s withdrawal, Ferguson was offered a fight with Michael Johnson on the shortest of notice, but ‘El Cucuy’ turned it down.
Speaking to Snoop Dogg, White said that McGregor was disgusted by Ferguson’s decision to do so and the American’s subsequent calls that he receive his show money in full despite not competing.
“You know this shit that went on with Tony Ferguson and Khabib[Nurmagomedov], right?,” White asked the enigmatic rapper. “You know what [McGregor] said to me? He text me and he says, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to pay that bum Tony Ferguson one dollar.’
“He goes, ‘He was there, made weight, and you lined up a fight for him with Michael Johnson and he turned it down? Fucking bum. You shouldn’t pay him a dime.’ That’s Conor’s mentality.
“That’s one of the many things that I love about Conor McGregor. And it’s not just talk either.”
To be fair to Ferguson, the timeline of events ahead of UFC 209 put him in a very difficult position. He was asked to take on a new opponent on little more than 24 hours notice and to take a pay cut in the process, though he was not at fault for the collapse of the originally slated fight.
In the end, Ferguson did receive a six-figure payment, although it was significantly lower than the $250,000 he would have been guaranteed had Nurmagomedov made it to fight night.
Ferguson has yet to be booked in another bout since, although he has been calling for a battle with McGregor’s old foe Nate Diaz. That is certainly an interesting match-up, the winner of which would become the likely opponent for McGregor upon his return to the UFC, whenever that may be.
You can watch the interview with Snoop Dogg, in which White also talks about McGregor/Mayweather and a whole lot more, below…