White 'would have no problem' with McGregor showing up at UFC 242
"I honestly believe that, in that region, they like Conor McGregor too."
Just as it looks like life in the UFC is moving on, we could return to the dark days of 2018 [April to October]. Dana White is all about hyping fights but it would be advisable to ask Conor McGregor to make alternative plans when UFC 242 is on.
Early September in Abu Dhabi sees the promotion bring UFC 241 to fight fans. Khabib Nurmagomedov is headlining the card and putting his lightweight belt on the line against interim champion Dustin Poirier.
Most fans would tell you 'The Eagle' is already undisputed but Poirier beat Max Holloway in March to win some gold and make this fight one for an undisputed title.
The London press conference for the pay-per-view - the UFC's third big event in Abu Dhabi since 2010 - was pretty sedate, and very respectful. Both men fancy their chances but were more than cordial about each other. This was the Nurmagomedov we have grown accustomed to seeing but one that was missing, last year, when dragged the pre-fight hype into murkier territory.
The UFC 223 bus attack, the two spicy press conferences ahead of McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov and the post-fight brawl at UFC 229 were a stain on the year. Few would wish to see those antics return but White, the UFC president, is open to McGregor showing up in the Middle East.
In an interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, White said:
"Nothing has changed with Conor since the last time I spoke with you. He wants the [Khabib] rematch and we'll see how this thing plays out in September."
"He could show up," White added. "He could. Possibly... he could, probably, show up to that fight but I don't know if he will. He hasn't said anything to me...
"I don't think that [their past issues] is going to be a problem. I honestly believe that, in that region, they like Conor McGregor too. I know that they take things a little serious when things are said, but Khabib won the fight. It's all just trash-talk.
"It's no secret that, with Khabib and Conor there is no love lost. Those guys do not like each other. Culturally, I don't think [it will be an issue]. I would have no problem with Conor showing up there."
One would advise security staff at du Arena, in Abu Dhabi, to keep their hand-carts safely stowed away for the week of UFC 242.
In the same interview, White revealed that Jose Aldo - a former opponent of McGregor - had signed a new, long-term contract with the UFC. The Brazilian had been talking up a possible sporting switch, to boxing, but he will remain in the promotion a while yet.