UFC president Dana White revealed the latest information about Conor McGregor’s next fight and why it definitely might suck compared to other outings for McGregor. Don’t get him wrong. White is just as hyped as everyone else to see how McGregor’s upcoming rematch with Dustin Poirier plays out at UFC 257 on January 23. The problem is that White might not be able to have a live audience on hand for the fight, and that will limit the potential money the fight can make for everyone involved.
“It definitely sucks,” White said per BT Sport about potentially not getting live-gate money for McGregor’s next fight.
Still, White revealed the UFC was diligently working with Abu Dhabi officials on making a live audience happen for UFC 257 if at all possible.
“That’s the plan,” White said. “It’s not done yet, but that’s the deal we’re working on.”
So McGregor’s next fight might suck from a live-gate perspective, but it also might not.
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UFC 257 on Fight Island?
White confirmed the UFC was looking at Etihad Stadium in Abu Dhabi and that the company hoped to have fans in attendance there for all three upcoming cards scheduled for January, including UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2.
“Yes, we’re definitely looking at Etihad Stadium to do the fights. We would love to do fans. We’ve been working on that with Abu Dhabi since the last time we were there, and these guys are light years ahead of the rest of the world. Abu Dhabi has tested everybody that’s in the country. They helped us build the best bubble anywhere on earth,” White said.
But White also said they haven’t been able to figure things out just yet.
“The problem thing right now is this thing is starting to kick up again. More people are testing positive [for COVID-19]. I’m not sure Abu Dhabi wants to fly people in from all over the world that could possibly have, you know, bring COVID back into the country,” White said.
Regardless, White hopes to have a solution soon. McGregor’s next fight could still end up with no fans and no live gate, or the UFC could figure out a solution beforehand in tandem with the local Abu Dhabi officials.
“I don’t know yet. This is all stuff that’s still in the works,” White said.
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White: ‘It’s A Completely Different Fight’
Fans or no fans, White expects a solid fight on January 23.
In fact, White said the rematch between McGregor and Poirier would look nothing like their first fight back in 2014 when McGregor defeated “The Diamond” via first-round knockout in a featherweight contest.
“It’s a completely different fight,” White said. “Obviously, Conor McGregor is a much better fighter than he was when he first faced him, and Poirier is a much better fighter, too.”
Still, White wouldn’t predict the result of UFC 257 except to say that he thinks it will be a fun fight to watch.
“I don’t know how that plays out now in the fight, but it’s definitely interesting. You can’t look at the first fight and go, ‘Oh this is exactly the way that’s going to go again,’ because it won’t, and it’s in a different weight class,” White said.
White has been impressed with how both fighters have looked recently.
“Conor looks damn good, and Poirier’s always in shape, so I expect this to be a good fight,” White said.
White on McGregor’s Frustration with UFC
Finally, White shared his observations about McGregor not being super active during 2020.
While White loves seeing a live gate on the books for a McGregor fight, the UFC president doesn’t believe the absence of one is what kept the Irish superstar from competing all year.
“That wasn’t the reason the fights didn’t happen,” White said. “It just didn’t’ work out.”
Instead, White believes McGregor simply needed to see the UFC handle its business during the pandemic before fully committing himself to fighting for the company.
“I think Conor originally…was like ‘I don’t know about fighting without fans’,” White said. “Then he saw how the fights were going.”
White said he’s used to that sort of thing by now.
“You know there’s always these little things that happen in the sport, and everybody always likes to sit back and watch and ‘let’s see how this plays out’,” White said.
So White believes McGregor was simply waiting to see if the UFC was capable of continuing to put on big fights during the global pandemic, and once he saw the company can and would keep doing that, the Irishman decided he was ready to fight again.
“When I said I was going to go through COVID, a lot of people were skeptical and wanted to see how this thing was going to play out. And Conor is probably one of them,” White said.
Fans or not, UFC 257: McGregor vs Poirier 2 will be one of the biggest fights of the year in 2021.
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