Dana White explains his change of heart on Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor

Throughout the constant swirl of rumors about a possible boxing match between retired great Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, the most relevant development seemed to come in March when UFC president Dana White said he would no longer stand in the way of the fight. 

White, who said Wednesday during an appearance on NBC Sports radio that he’s currently working on a deal with McGregor, explained the reasoning for his sudden change of direction. 

“The money that’s involved in this thing, does it make a bunch of sense for my business? No. But Conor is a guy who has stepped up in times of need here in big fights when an opponent fell out,” White said. “So I want to do this for Conor and help him make this kind of money.”

McGregor (21-3), the first UFC fighter to hold titles in different weight classes simultaneously, agreed to face a pair of difficult opponents on short notice during an eight month stretch beginning in July 2015. Both times (a victory over Chad Mendes for the UFC interim featherweight title and a loss to Nate Diaz in their first meeting) he was able to save the main event of a pay-per-view card after Jose Aldo and Rafael dos Anjos, respectively, pulled out due to injuries. 

Asked for a timeline on when the Mayweather-McGregor fight might happen, White said before the end of 2017 “I think you will [see it].” 

“Conor McGregor is having a baby right now. After his girlfriend delivers her baby, we will start working on this deal,” White said. “I think we are actually there [in terms of the financial details]. I think we are in a good place. I just need to get together with him and finalize some stuff and then it’s on to Mayweather.” 

White, a former boxing manager, said he hasn’t had a hand in negotiating the tiny details that come with a boxing match since 2001, when he helped Derrick Harmon secure a light heavyweight championship match against Roy Jones Jr. He said he’s both “looking forward to it and I’m not looking forward to it” in regards to hashing things out with Mayweather. 

When it comes to any concern about what a dominant loss for McGregor, 28, could do to both his brand and that of the UFC, White admitted there is real concern. 

“Absolutely and I think you have to look at it for instance, [seven] years ago, James Toney came into the UFC and fought and he got completely embarrassed in a minute and a half in another sport [against Randy Couture],” White said. 

That doesn’t mean that White isn’t giving McGregor a chance. 

“The thing that makes this fight very intriguing to me is Floyd Mayweather is 40 years old,” White said. “Yes, he’s one of the best of all time. But, he’s 40. Conor is [28] and Conor’s a much bigger guy than Floyd Mayweather. Conor McGregor is a southpaw and Floyd Mayweather has had trouble with southpaws. Conor McGregor has knockout power in both hands. Floyd Mayweather does not. If you sit down and talk to Conor McGregor, he’ll make you believe he’s going to win the fight. I’m fascinated to see how this thing plays out.”

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

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories