How the mighty have fallen.
Less than three years ago, Conor McGregor was in position to demand the UFC allow him to box Floyd Mayweather.
The UFC usually avoids co-promotion and involving itself in events over which they don’t have complete control. McGregor, who never had a pro boxing match, stepping into the ring with an all-time great boxer was an especially risky proposition.
But McGregor was at the peak of his popularity, with a string of million-plus-selling pay-per-views and having won the featherweight and lightweight titles less than a year apart. So the bombastic Irishman got his way and became part of one of the biggest money one-night events in UFC history in August 2017, and even acquitted himself better than expected in his 10th-round TKO loss.
Nowadays? McGregor doesn’t even dictate the terms of his own division.
UFC president Dana White, who spent much of his youth in South Boston, sat down with The Boston Globe in the lead-up to Friday night’s UFC on ESPN 6 event. The UFC boss told the Globe that, while he expects McGregor to fight, it’s up to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to decide which direction he wants to go next, not the other way around.
“Khabib is the man now,” White said. “Conor isn’t the man anymore, so Khabib gets to sit back and call the shots.”
Despite all his various missteps and legal issues in recent months, McGregor is still a drawing card. Whether it’s a fight with Justin Gaethje or the winner of next month’s Nate Diaz-Jorge Masvidal fight, one way or another, McGregor will find his way into a major event.
“Next month at Madison Square Garden, we’ve got Diaz vs Masvidal, sold out,” White said. “So whoever wins that fight could fight McGregor. We’ve got ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, we’ve got Justin Gaethje, but what Conor wants right now really is the Khabib rematch. So we’ll see how that whole thing plays out.
“But if you’re Khabib, you got the Tony Ferguson fight, George St. Pierre wants to fight, and you’ve got the Conor McGregor fight.”
McGregor lost to Khabib last year at UFC 229 by fourth-round submission.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Dana White: Conor McGregor 'isn't the man anymore;' Khabib Nurmagomedov is