Dana White Reveals New Targeted Return Date for Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor still hasn’t committed to timeline for his return to the UFC but Dana White seems to have an idea in mind.
The UFC president had originally hoped to get McGregor back in action before the end of 2017 but that’s obviously not happening and from the sound of things, it’s not likely the reigning lightweight champion will be back in early 2018 either.
According to White, he’s now targeting a summer return for McGregor, assuming the two sides can reach an agreement on a new deal and the 29-year old Irishman decides he wants to fight again after earning a reported $100 million for his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August.
“I haven’t talked to Conor about fighting, we talk about other things but like I said before, he made a lot of money and I’m sure him and his family had an amazing Christmas. Get through the holidays and hopefully he starts to get the itch to come back and hopefully we can get him back this summer,” White said when speaking to ESPN on Thursday.
It appeared the original plan for McGregor was to return at an earlier date and unify the lightweight title against interim champion Tony Ferguson.
While that matchup still appears to be the plan, White also tossed in another possibility when discussing McGregor’s return with FS1 on Thursday.
“We have Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and Edson Barboza [fighting at UFC 219], two more of the top guys in that division so this is going to shake out. It’s going to be interesting. If whoever wins the Barboza-Khabib fight while we’re trying to figure out this Conor mess, could end up fighting Tony Ferguson for the opportunity to fight Conor McGregor so we’ll see,” White said.
That throws a whole new wrinkle into the lightweight division as McGregor has been champion for more than a year but still never defended his title.
From the sound of things, White has no intention of stripping McGregor of that title and instead may allow him to sit out until summer 2018 to face whoever has the interim championship at that time.
As far as coming to an agreement with McGregor on a new deal, White promises that he’ll be able to get it done and doesn’t believe that money will be a factor in whether or not he can convince the former two-division champion to put ink to paper on a new contract.
Instead, White suggests that McGregor’s future hinges on whether or not he actually wants to fight again after making such a lucrative payday in his last fight.
“Well money is always a factor but we’ve never had a problem getting a deal done with Conor McGregor. I don’t see that being a problem,” White said. “The question is does he want to come back and do it? No matter how much money you make, I always feel like with certain people, you can only go on so many vacations, there’s only so much stuff you can buy and then you’re ready to get back to the grind, hopefully.”