Earlier this year, before the whole world went to crap with this Coronavirus thing, UFC president Dana White and Floyd Mayweather worked out a deal to co-promote fights together.
“Some things have to play out and then I’m going to start talking to (Al) Haymon maybe this summer and then I’ll have something for Floyd in the fall,” White told ESPN back at the start of January. “The money is in Floyd competing.”
Unfortunately, you know what happened next. Floyd’s uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather died in March, and almost simultaneously the world shut down due to COVID-19. With all that happening, word was Floyd’s return to action from retirement was being cancelled. But according to Dana White, there’s still ongoing talks about possible fights.
“Floyd and I still have dialog and go back and forth,” he told TMZ Sports. “We’re still interested on both sides.”
“I know he would rematch Conor McGregor,” White added. “But I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Conor McGregor is retired. When I’m doing things right now and running business, I don’t even think about Conor. Conor is retired. As of right here now today, Conor is retired until Conor tells me differently, I’m not trying to make any fights for Conor.”
The TMZ reporter gave a sarcastic “Riiiiiight,” before adding “And I’m the heavyweight champion of the world.”
“I’m just sayin’,” White replied with a smile. “He is retired right now. He is not fighting. Per my contract with the fighters, I owe them three fights a year. If I do not deliver three fights a year I have to pay them their money. Conor McGregor is retired.”
That’s Dana White’s boilerplate answer to the McGregor question: so long as McGregor is technically retired, no fights are being shopped his way. Which is a crazy way to deal with your biggest star, but for some reason the UFC seems perfectly happy letting Conor sit on the sidelines as long as he wants ... which sounds like exactly the kind of strange power play McGregor was complaining about when he decided to ‘retire’ in the first place.
That’s led to rumors of Conor McGregor going his own way and setting up a boxing match with Manny Pacquiao. How real any of that is remains unclear. It would certainly be a massive money making fight, and the last time McGregor decided he was going to put together his own mega-fight he forced the Mayweather bout into existence.
Is White dangling a Mayweather rematch to bring McGregor back into the fold? Is he laying the legal groundwork to argue big fights would be there for McGregor if McGregor hadn’t retired himself? For now we’ll have to continue to keep our ear to the ground and see whether McGregor and the UFC seem to be working things out or pulling further apart.