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Dana White Says Conor McGregor Responsible for UFC 200 Withdrawal

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2016

UFC president Dana White speaks beside an empty chair where Conor McGregor was supposed to sit during a news conference for UFC 200, Friday, April 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Conor McGregor only has himself to blame for missing out on UFC 200, according to company boss Dana White.

The Irishman’s bout with Nate Diaz was scrapped from the bill after he decided not to fulfil press obligations, with a new main event—a rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones—announced instead.

White, speaking at a New York press conference on Wednesday, said he had no choice but to take the Notorious off the card, per Ben Grounds of the MailOnline:

I didn't prevent Conor from fighting at UFC 200. Everybody, if you look at [last week's] press conference—Joanna Jedrzejczyk came in from Poland. Claudia Gadelha came in from Brazil. This is what we do. This is how it works.

I didn't prevent him from fighting at UFC 200. He knew what the deal was. I told him what the deal was. He opted to do that.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11:  UFC President Dana White (R) greets UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor during the UFC 189 post fight press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuff
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

After announcing on Twitter he had "decided to retire young," a subsequent statement from McGregor on his Facebook page stated he wanted to focus more on preparing for his fights and less on fulfilling the masses of media commitments.

Despite pressure to allow McGregor back onto the card for what is a landmark show for the UFC, White has stood firm in his insistence that competitors must promote their own fights. At this juncture, neither man seems willing to budge from their standpoint.

White also reiterated he has a lot of respect for the Notorious, suggesting the fight with Diaz will get done further down the line:

I've said it a million times: Conor asked to fight Nate Diaz and Conor wants to fight Nate Diaz. Conor doesn't back down from fights, man. One of the things that has made Conor popular and as big as he is, is this dude wants to fight. He comes to fight. He comes out guns blazing.

Conor is fun. Conor is a stud. I have a lot of respect for Conor. Conor and I just had—you know, you have to show up and do the PR. You have to do it.

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27:  UFC President Dana White introduces light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (L) and interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (R) during the UFC 200 New York press event at Madison Square Garden on April 27, 2016 in New York
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

White also revealed he did seek a compromise with McGregor, which was rejected. “I was willing to make sure there were things he needed to make it work,” he said, per Jacob Murtagh of the Daily Mirror. “Conor wouldn’t do it.”

It’s a dilemma for White and the company. Chamatkar Sandhu of MMA Junkie noted just how many fans McGregor can pull in:

Chamatkar Sandhu @SandhuMMA

The UFC 196 McGregor vs Diaz presser peaked at over 360k viewers. Today's UFC 200 presser did around 33k viewers. https://t.co/5LWxqzww2A

The fighter’s own point of view is understandable. After all, having lost to Diaz at UFC 197, there’s little wrong with wanting to focus squarely on preparations for the rematch.

McGregor has lofty ambitions to break new ground in the sport too, something which can only be achieved with a lot of tailored preparations.

McGregor has made it clear he wants to focus more on training.
McGregor has made it clear he wants to focus more on training.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

White is in a tough position, though, as letting McGregor off the hook when it comes to promoting the fight would set a precedent for others to do the same.

Plus, as MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani notes here, the UFC have shown they are willing to make certain sacrifices for its fighters:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Cormier's kids had a school recital Wednesday PM that he absolutely did not want to miss. It was a big deal to him to be there. ...

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

So after some back and forth, UFC decided to send a camera crew to his kids' school & will stream the recital live to DC's phone later today

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

DC was blown away by the gesture and very appreciative. He said Dana White and Craig Borsari got it done for him. Pretty cool.

This would be too much, though. Already there are sections of MMA fans who resent the way in which McGregor is catered to by the UFC, and bending the rules for him again would give those cries of bias further clout. White, as the boss of the company, needs to ensure he preserves some authority.

UFC 200 may be worse off without McGregor’s vibrant personality and captivating fighting style, but whichever card he does fight Diaz on further down the line will be boosted significantly. So provided the Irishman competes again under the banner, it’s a win-win scenario for the UFC.

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