Joe Rogan reveals Dana White conversation about potentially biggest fight of Conor McGregor's career
In 2014, the UFC was reeling from the retirement of Georges St-Pierre and long-term injury to Anderson Silva.
The reliable cash-cows were not on the scene and although the likes of Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman were forging paths, the promotion suffered from its over-reliance on a couple of big names.
Conor McGregor was headlining Fight Night events but he was not deemed big enough to carry a pay-per-view. With McGregor taking time off and Rousey's star on the wane and retirement talk growing among peers and pundits, the UFC could be in danger of slipping back in terms of popularity.
It is a notion that cropped up on the most recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience. For Rogan's part, he believes McGregor is the only stand-out star of the promotion following Ronda Rousey's devastating knock-out at UFC 207. He declared:
"Honestly, there's Conor McGregor and there's everybody else.
"There was a thing they showed the other day that Conor drew more pay-per-views in three fights than the entire roster did in 2014."
The PPV numbers back Rogan up. 2014 had 12 pay-per-view events that totalled 3,200,000 buys.
For McGregor's three headlined events of 2016 - UFCs 196, 202 and 205 - the promotion had approximately 3,952,000 buys. The three events eclipse 2014 by some distance.
Indeed, it was noted on the show, McGregor's worst returning PPV of last year [UFC 205 - 1.3m buys] handily outperforms the best returns for Rousey [UFC 193 - 1.1m] and equals Brock Lesnar [UFC 100 - 1.3m].
It is for that reason that Rogan believes Nick Diaz may yet get a welterweight title shot against champion Tyron Woodley despite the Californian being without a UFC win since 2011. Rogan believes there is a bigger and better fight on the cards for Diaz IF they UFC want serious bang for their buck. He says:
"Dana [White, UFC president] and I were having this conversation and he was like, 'You can't have Nick Diaz - he hasn't won a fight since 2011 - step in and go right up to the title.'
"I said, 'I wanna see that fight.'
"[Dana] said, 'I want to see it too but you just can have that'."
Rogan added, "I think they missed the boat if they wanted to make the BIG money. It's Nick Diaz versus Conor McGregor... whatever, they fight at 170 pounds. Conor fought [Nate Diaz] at 170."
The UFC commentator's main argument for McGregor versus Diaz the elder is that it would be a 'great story'. He remarked, "Big brother stepping, come on!"
Perhaps this is the reason Nick Diaz rejected a rematch with former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler.