Dana White changes tune, won't stop Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor superfight

If you’ve been looking for a reason to question the validity of constant rumors about a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, it has been difficult to overlook the fact that McGregor remains under contract with the UFC. 

Only two months ago, UFC president Dana White responded to questions about the rumored bout during a post-fight news conference at UFC Fight Night in Denver with a stern warning for McGregor (21-3). “If he wants to go down that road with us, let me tell you, it will be an epic fall,” he said. 

White went on to say he had a better chance of backing up Tom Brady in the Super Bowl than the fight being made. But if White’s comments to TMZ Sports on Wednesday are any indication, things appear to have shifted behind the scenes.

“[McGregor] obviously has a lot of opportunities right now,” White said. “Tony Ferguson is out there. You know, the Floyd Mayweather thing is out there. We’ll see how this thing plays out. [The Mayweather fight] doesn’t make a lot of sense for my business, but I would never keep Conor from making that kind of money.”

White doubled down on his comments late Wednesday when asked if the fight will happen during an appearance on the TBS late night show Conan.

“I do. I do think it’s going to happen,” White said. “I think it’s going to be a tough deal because obviously there’s a lot of egos involved in this deal and a lot of people, so that always makes it tougher. But on the flip side, there’s so much money involved, I just don’t see how it doesn’t happen.”

White reiterated that the fight would be strictly a boxing match, saying that if it was contested under mixed martial arts rules, “it wouldn’t last 30 seconds because Conor would destroy him.” But that doesn’t mean he believes McGregor won’t be competitive as a boxer.

“Conor McGregor is huge. He’s [28] years old; he’s in the prime of his career,” White said. “Floyd is 40. Floyd always had problems with southpaws. Conor is a southpaw, and Conor hits hard. When he hits people, they go. Floyd’s definitely not knocking him out, that’s for sure. I’m not saying that Conor would win this boxing match, but it sure makes it interesting.”

White told TMZ Sports said that he and McGregor haven’t talked about fighting during the UFC lightweight champion’s current break from the octagon as he and longtime girlfriend Dee Devlin await the birth of their first child in April. But asked whether McGregor’s next UFC fight will be in defense of his 155-pound title, White said, “I think so. That’s where it should be.” 

Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs), who walked away from the sport following his September 2015 victory against Andre Berto, announced on Saturday he is coming out of retirement  at age 40 to fight McGregor.

“I don’t want to hear no more excuses about the money, about the UFC,” Mayweather said. “Sign the paper with the UFC so you can fight me in June. Simple and plain. Let’s fight in June. You’re the B side; I’m the A side. We’re not here to cry about money. I’m tired of all this crying about money and talking about you want to fight. You blowing smoke up everybody’s ass. If you want to fight, sign the paperwork, let’s do it.”

White shot down a FloCombat.com report that the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was being put on hold on June 10 for the Mayweather-McGregor bout.

“It has nothing to do with us,” White said. “Nothing to do with the Floyd-Conor fight.”

If Mayweather-McGregor becomes a reality, it’s uncertain what role UFC would play in the promotion. McGregor will be in New York on Friday to walk Irish featherweight Michael Conlan to the ring for his pro boxing debut at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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