For the first time since Conor McGregor's August loss to Floyd Mayweather in McGregor's professional boxing debut, UFC president Dana White publicly expressed doubt over whether the lightweight champion will ever return to the Octagon.
White, who sat down with media members in Las Vegas on Tuesday just days ahead of this weekend's "The Ultimate Fighter" finale and UFC 218 card, referenced the reported windfall McGregor made in a pay-per-view bout which produced over four million buys.
"Money changes everything," White said. "He may never fight again. He has got $100 million in the bank. It's tough to get punched in the face every day when you've got $100 million."
McGregor, 29, hasn't fought for the UFC in the past 12 months and has yet to defend either of the world titles he has won inside the Octagon.
White admitted he doesn't regret allowing McGregor to take the boxing match, even if it means his UFC career will never continue, saying, "We're all in this business to make money." Even though 2017 has been a disappointing year for UFC in terms of PPV sales, White said earlier this month the company was on pace for its best financial year in history thanks in large part to Mayweather-McGregor.
In recent months, White had said publicly he hoped for McGregor to return in Las Vegas, either at UFC 219 on Dec. 30 or UFC 222 on March 3. Considering the unprecedented leverage McGregor's currently holds over UFC, it's hard to determine when and if he returns, or if it would take place in boxing or MMA.
One thing that's for certain, however, is that White isn't bending when it comes to McGregor's constant demand that UFC make him part owner.
Dana does say he is working on a new deal with Conor, but doesn't sound like WME-IMG will budge on giving McGregor ownership stock. "Did Jordan get (ownership) points?"— Adam Hill (@AdamHillLVRJ) November 28, 2017
White also shot down rumors of McGregor's involvement in a recent bar brawl in his native Dublin.
"I don't think it's true. If it was, it would be bigger news," White said. "Conor can walk down the street and it's big news. If it's true, I'm sure we'll find out.
White did address the large entourage that has made the rounds with McGregor of late by saying, "When he travels, he has got people for days with him. When you make that kind of money and you're that famous, you're going to have an overload of cling-ons."
While White would prefer McGregor to return and unify his 155-pound title against Tony Ferguson, he spoke out against the interim champion's demands that McGregor defend the belt or vacate it.
"Ferguson has no business to talk about anything." White said. "We ain't taking direction from Tony Ferguson."