If it don’t make dollars, then it don’t make sense. If Conor McGregor (pictured) does make the UFC millions of dollars, doesn’t it make sense to keep him in UFC 200?
Not if you were to ask UFC president Dana White.
White has engaged in a public pissing contest with McGregor for the past eight days after his biggest cash cow refused to hop on the UFC’s private jet to fly from Iceland to Las Vegas in order to attend last Friday’s UFC 200 press conference. Because McGregor was a no-show at the presser, White reiterated countless times that the door was shut on McGregor headlining the July 9 show against Nate Diaz.
While White was emphatic with his stance on McGregor, there was still a slight glimmer of hope that UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta would step in, as he has in the past when White’s stubbornness got in the way of good business, and smooth things over between White and McGregor in order to showcase their biggest superstar in the historic event.
Fertitta has remained radio silent, but White was loud and clear today when he announced on “Good Morning America” that a light heavyweight rematch between champion Daniel Cormier and interim champ Jon Jones would now headline the extravaganza, officially slamming the cage door on any chance of McGregor appearing at UFC 200.
As expected, White won, via landslide unanimous decision. Although, it was a very unpopular decision.
Sure, White needs to show his entire roster who’s boss, and there’s no better way to do that than by putting his golden boy in his place for the entire world to see. It’s highly doubtful anyone will try pulling this stunt again.
However, who really won here besides White’s ego?
White admitted during Friday’s UFC 200 press conference that all of the other fighters in attendance still wanted McGregor to appear on the card because of his unmatched star power. In fact, Diaz, who made the trek from Stockton despite not having an opponent, was perfectly fine with still fighting McGregor even though “Notorious” was nowhere to be found.
Nearly every reporter who asked a question was probing White for the possibility that he would still allow the UFC featherweight champion back in. Fans roared whenever McGregor’s name was mentioned, which was often.
White wasn’t budging, pulling the “it wouldn’t be fair to these guys who did make the press conference” card. It’s unknown exactly when White has been so keen on doing what’s “fair” for his fighters (Please see: Fighter pay, Reebok, etc.).
On the flipside, there’s a reason why a phrase like SUPERSTAR TREATMENT exists. Do the Cleveland Caveliers treat LeBron James the same as Dahntay Jones – or even Kevin Love for that matter? No, because he’s LeBron James and everyone understands that he does more for the team than anyone else.
“UFC 200: Cormier vs. Jones II” will be epic, but not “UFC 200: McGregor vs. Diaz II” epic. McGregor possesses the natural ability to captivate an audience. There would have been a buzz that Cormier and Jones won’t be able to touch. The mainstream masses would have been far more inclined to shell out $59.95 to see if McGregor could avenge March’s shocking submission loss to Diaz than to see if Cormier could right his overwhelming wrong against Jones from 15 months ago.
A Diaz with a full training camp against a McGregor with proper time to pack on the additional pounds to compete at welterweight. Throw in plenty of smack talking and the UFC would practically be printing their own money.
Speaking of money, during Wednesday press conference in New York, White was asked how much dough the UFC is leaving on the table by pulling McGregor from UFC 200. White chuckled on the outside, but he was probably crying on the inside if Darren Rovell’s numbers are accurate.
The ESPN.com reporter estimated that the UFC is losing $45 million by not having McGregor headline UFC 200. You can read how Rovell came up with his figure HERE.
White and the UFC can quickly make up that money. It would take McGregor a very long time to recapture his share of that pie.
White sent McGregor, and his entire roster, a message that this is what happens when a pawn engages in a pissing contest with the king.