LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons lately.
Earlier this month, he jumped into the Bellator cage in Dublin to celebrate with a teammate, leading to a heated physical confrontation with referee Marc Goddard and McGregor slapping a Bellator employee. And just this week, McGregor was the subject of rumors about an altercation in a Dublin bar involving Irish mobsters.
UFC president Dana White broke his silence Tuesday at a media lunch about McGregor’s antics. On the latter, White does not believe the reports out of Ireland that McGregor is involved with criminals and roughing up people in bars.
“I don’t think it’s true,” White said. “Because if it was true, it would be big. Conor can walk down the street and it’s big news now. If this were true, I just have to believe it would be off-the-charts crazy.
“If it’s true, we’ll end up finding out. I can’t chase all these things around. If it’s true, we’ll get it figured out and we’ll go from there.”
Regarding McGregor’s Bellator wildness, White was vague on whether the UFC would punish the lightweight champion. White said the promotion was indeed still working on a deal with McGregor for UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas and those plans have gone out the window since the Bellator incident.
White said McGregor is under the sanctioning of Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) president Mike Mazzulli, which was the lead regulator for the Bellator card in Dublin. However, it remains unclear if the ABC or Mazzulli, who runs the Mohegan Sun regulator body, has any jurisdiction to punish McGregor.
“He was being dealt with by the head of the ABC,” White said. “We were gonna fight him, regardless of what [McGregor’s manager] Audie [Attar] says, we were working on a fight for him at the end of the year. And he’s just not ready. Listen … Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got a f*cking hundred million dollars.
“These guys make money and that’s it. Fighting is the worst. Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything for a lot of people.”
White believes McGregor’s conduct at Bellator 187 is somewhere due to the recent insurgence of a ridiculous amount of money from the Floyd Mayweather boxing match in August.
“He’s a young, rich kid who is a god in Ireland,” White said. “That’s not the healthiest environment either. It’s all part of it. I don’t know if you guys remember in the very beginning with Jon Jones. There’s no doubt the talent was there. I used to go, ‘The guy is talented, but he’s young, he’s rich, he’s the king of the world now. Hopefully he can keep it together.’ That was way before the crazy shit started to happen. And there it is. It happens.
“What’s weird is it happens more in this sport, in fighting, in the fighting business, more than any other sport.”
White has said over the years that the people around Jones have not made things better for him. He calls them “cling-ons” and said that could be a problem for McGregor as well.
“Conor has got a lot, too,” White said. “When he travels, he’s got friggin’ people for days with him. When you make that kind of money, you’re that famous and you’re a professional athlete, you’re gonna have an overload of cling-ons.”
McGregor, 29, remains the UFC lightweight champion, though he has not fought in the promotion since winning the belt against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016. White said he’s not sure about McGregor vacating the belt or when — or if — he’ll fight again. The talks are underway for a new contract, he said, and no timetable is set.
“We need to figure that out,” White said. “Right now, with him it’s not about defend or vacate. We’re working on a new deal with him right now.”
On whether or not he’ll discuss the recent problems with McGregor, White said he would not. From his experience, White said, it just doesn’t work and fighters have to figure it out on their own.
“You can’t,” White said. “I’ve learned over the years you can’t have these conversations with them. They’re all grown men and women. To be honest with you, the only one who’s ever listened to me in all these years is Chuck [Liddell] and Ronda [Rousey]. And those are really the only two that listened to what I said.”