Peter Carroll: Dana White will blink first because UFC 200 needs Conor McGregor

MMA journalist Peter Carroll assesses the impact of Conor McGregor's very public falling out with Dana White

Conor McGregor, Dana White, UFC 200

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Conor McGregor is likely to force UFC’s hand in putting him back on the UFC 200 card with a personal statement he made on his Facebook page today.

In the post, ‘The Notorious’ took back his retirement announcement that he posted on Twitter on Tuesday when he declared, “I AM NOT RETIRED”, at the end of the lengthy post.

Irish papers paraded McGregor and Dana White’s rift on their front pages this morning. Yesterday evening, BBC’s news broadcast carried a segment on McGregor’s stepping away from the sport. CNN had a think tank on the issue late last night. McGregor’s post proved that he was quite aware of the stir that he caused.

“There had been 10 million dollars allocated for the promotion of this event is what they told me. So as a gesture of good will, I went and not only saved that 10 million dollars in promotion money, I then went and tripled it for them. And all with one tweet.”

UFC 200 has gained so much coverage on the back of White and McGregor’s fallout that UFC would be crazy not to reinstate their initial main event, a rematch between Nate Diaz and the Irishman.

McGregor highlighted that he didn’t want to pull out of all media obligations, but instead, he was just looking for a “slight adjustment”.

“I will always play the game and play it better than anybody, but just for this one, where I am coming off a loss, I asked for some leeway where I can just train and focus. I did not shut down all media requests. I simply wanted a slight adjustment. But it was denied.”

Certainly, McGregor brings something to the table that only Ronda Rousey can match in his crossover appeal. In an article released yesterday, I highlighted how the Dubliner had voiced his concern about his media obligations ever since he won the interim title back in July, and how Dana White had previously claimed that his workload would “blow you away”.

Dana White and Conor McGregor (INPHO)

The workload of the SBG front-runner, the manner in which he executed his promotional work and his performances in the Octagon were often cited as reasons for him getting special treatment from the promotion.

From the blackout treatment he received in his sophomore UFC outing in Boston, an honour usually reserved for champions, to his dramatic jump up in weight to face Nate Diaz on short notice, the UFC have catered to the Irish superstar due the masses he brings to the table. 

In the past, Dana White has publicly lambasted his fighters, even the big draws, when they fail to play ball with the promotion. Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones have all felt the wrath of the UFC president in the past. Yet, with McGregor, White didn’t close the door on the Irishman competing at the marquee event, despite him initially pulling him from the card.

The Crumlin man’s action may have broader implications for his fellow professionals too.

By stating he is “not yet paid to promote”, McGregor may be looking for more cash from the company to get in front of the cameras from now on. Should he have his wishes met, it would nearly guarantee that more fighters would take similar stands in an effort to come to some arrangement with the promotion. Again, if they even meet him in his demands for a “slight adjustment” in his press requirements, his fellow fighters will follow suit.

Risk versus reward

By McGregor taking centre stage at UFC 200, UFC will have conceded some ground in what appears to be, in part, a massive battle of egos. In saying that, the money they will make from bringing him back on board will certainly help them lick their wounds.

Of course, the risk is not all UFC’s.

Coming off a loss, McGregor shocked a lot of people when he decided to rematch Diaz instead of moving back down and defending his featherweight title. Another loss could certainly hinder his stardom, but more so, it could end his privileged situation with his employers.

That being said, in today’s post, McGregor seemed acutely aware of his circumstances. In fact, he claimed that it played into his choice of not undertaking his media obligations, which eventually led to his “retirement”.

“50 world tours, 200 press conferences, 1 million interviews, 2 million photo shoots, and at the end of it all I’m left looking down the barrel of a lens, staring defeat in the face, thinking of nothing but my incorrect fight preparation.”

UFC 200 needs McGregor.

With the drama that’s unfolded over the past few days, coupled with the rollercoaster two rounds that led to his first Octagon loss on March 5, ‘The Notorious’ is the man that can rise to the occasion to help UFC bank their most successful event to date.

I expect an announcement from the promotion that will see McGregor return to the headline billing for their colossal card on July 9th; there's too much at stake for both parties.