UFC 257 went down on Saturday night (Jan. 23, 2021) from “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi ... and it didn’t exactly go as planned.
Massive demand for the card led to serious problems with the ESPN+ platform on the west coast of the United States, locking out tons of fans until halfway through the pay-per-view (PPV) card. And then UFC’s biggest star, Conor McGregor, got knocked out by Dustin Poirier, killing what little hope UFC President, Dana White, had of a McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov rematch.
White showed up looking a little glum to the post-event press conference, and it took all of three minutes for media to ask whether White had spoken to Khabib regarding UFC 257. Leading up to the event, White had claimed Khabib would come back if he saw “something spectacular” at the event that got his competitive juices flowing.
“I did talk to Khabib,” White said. “And he said to me ‘Dana, be honest with yourself. I’m so many levels above these guys. I’ve beat these guys.’ I don’t know. But it doesn’t sound very positive. So we’ll see. And what he said, I told you guys before, he won’t hold the division up. I mean, he already retired! He’s basically retired and I’m the one that’s basically been trying to get him to do one more.”
As far as stripping the title, White still seemed in no rush.
“It doesn’t matter because these two just fought, they’re not going to be fighting any time soon,” he said. “So we’ll get it figured out.”
This is what happened, when you change your team, leave the sparring partners who made you a champion and sparring with little kids, far away from reality.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 24, 2021
Was that basically confirming that Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler would probably be fighting for the vacant lightweight belt later this year?
“Yeah,” White said, before later adding, “I’m obviously going to talk to Khabib and see if he wants to defend that title. And if he doesn’t, I won’t push it anymore.”
As for the scuttled for now Khabib vs. Conor rematch?
“He hates Conor, so I know he wanted Conor to lose,” he said. “But there has to be a little piece of him inside that ... the fight with him and Conor would have been one of the biggest fights ever, if not the biggest fight. The last few days, the ways this thing has been trending. You guys had to feel it with your numbers, our numbers are off the charts this week.
“I was saying that I felt Khabib vs. Conor could be the No. 3 fight all time period in all combat sports,” he contined. Today, I felt like it could be No. 1, I felt like it could beat McGregor-Mayweather. So a piece of him had to want to be a part of a fight that big.”
We think Dana’s still not being honest with himself about how Khabib really thinks.