Conor McGregor Making Big Boy Demands Of The UFC

Uh-oh, Conor McGregor is at it again. “The Notorious One” is feeling himself and wants the UFC to know he understands his worth in the combat sports industry. To that end, McGregor has also let the world know that he is not going to be entering the cage again anytime soon unless he is made a partner in the world’s biggest MMA organization.

McGregor appeared in Dublin last week at the premiere of his documentary, “Notorious” and let the reporters know how he felt.

“They’ve got to entice me now because I came from a billion dollar fight,” McGregor said referencing the Mayweather boxing match he lost. “They’ve got to entice me. I want equity. I want ownership. I want to be a true partner, similar in the way I was in the Floyd fight. I was a promoter and I was a fighter, and that must continue for me to continue.”

Rest assured, Dana White must have known that McGregor would be a bit more demanding after pulling off monumental achievements in both MMA and boxing. The two have had a hot and cold relationship dating back to UFC 202 when McGregor refused to show up for promotional opportunities for his rematch against Nate Diaz. McGregor took to social media and blasted the UFC for scheduling trips from Europe to Las Vegas that would have interrupted his training schedule. 

Dana White on Conor McGregor: ‘Not looking for any co-promoters in the UFC | ESPN

UFC president Dana White explains why the promotion isn’t interested in looking for another promoter but says he has never had an issue making a deal with lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

Although White cancelled the bout to reprimand McGregor, the two eventually rematched and McGregor avenged the loss for one of the biggest UFC fights in history. Dana White addressed McGregor’s words recently on ESPN:

“Conor is Conor,” White told ESPN last Thursday. “If anybody deserves that stuff, it’s freaking Conor. Conor is the real deal and he’s a huge superstar, a global superstar and we will get a deal done.”

McGregor is truly proving himself to be the unicorn of the UFC, using his newfound leverage to change the narrative for MMA fighters who have been on the short end of the earning spectrum in professional sports. With the revolving door of superstars that receive the higher echelons of pay scale and pay-per-view points, McGregor is forging a new path of power that comes at a time when the UFC is running short on star talent.

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has given no intention of returning to action since her KO loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. In fact, her recent marriage to fellow MMA fighter Travis Browne and entertainment outings revealed on her social media suggest that she actually has a life now, which is rare for an active MMA superstar. With Georges St. Pierre just returning at UFC 217 to win the middleweight title, the UFC is rebuilding a counterpoint to the McGregor star spectrum. 

However, with McGregor essentially saving the UFC during the Jon Jones suspension, Rousey’s defeat, and GSP retirement era, his claims seem extremely valid. His last MMA fight, UFC 205 in November 2016 generated $17.7 million in ticket sales, which is about eight times the normal UFC ticket gate. Dana White has been McGregor’s rabbi since the beginning and after launching White into high-level boxing he is certainly grateful for the multiple revenue streams McGregor provides.

“I don’t ever get whatever about anyone coming back or whether they want to retire,” White said. “I said leading up to the Mayweather fight that you might never see Conor again when you get a taste of that kind of money. I feel like he does want to fight, so we’ll figure it out.”

The real question in all of this is how will the UFC’s other dominant champions and fighters feel if McGregor does receive some ownership. WIth UFC flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson now having the most UFC title defenses in history with 11 and St. Pierre now joining McGregor as a two-weight class champion, the question begs: will McGregor be the only fighter to stalemate for a piece of the MMA pie? 

UFC president Dana White said on Tuesday that McGregors octagon return could come as early as UFC 219, which will be held in Las Vegas. McGregor’s next opponent is slated to be Tony Ferguson who holds the UFC interim lightweight belt.

Lance Pugmire on Twitter

Dana White says he’ll hash out the UFC 219 main event for Las Vegas by the end of the week and said @TheNotoriousMMA return “will be in Vegas” and “could be” on that Dec. 30 date.

Only time will tell how this plays out and the next move is truly on the UFC’s new owners, WME-IMG and Dana White. Rest assured this saga will be continuing for a long time. 

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.