Dana White says potential Mayweather-McGregor bout not close

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
UFC president Dana White (L) says that lightweight champion Conor McGregor (R) may still wind up fighting boxer Floyd Mayweather. (Getty Images)
UFC president Dana White (L) says that lightweight champion Conor McGregor (R) may still wind up fighting boxer Floyd Mayweather. (Getty Images)

A day after appearing on “Conan,” UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports on Thursday that while he believes a boxing match between lightweight champion Conor McGregor and boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather is possible, no progress has been made toward consummating a deal.

On Wednesday, White told host Conan O’Brien that because of the large amount of money the potential bout could generate that it’s possible the bout happens.

“There’s a lot of egos involved in this deal, but on the flip side there’s so much money involved, I just don’t see how it doesn’t happen.”

Yahoo Sports spoke with White on Thursday and asked about his comments on the television show.

“Is this thing possible?” White rhetorically asked. “Yeah, I think it’s possible. Do I think it can happen? I do, because there’s so much involved. But it’s a long, long way away from happening. We’re no closer today than we were when we were talking two months ago.”

White also did a brief interview with TMZ on Wednesday in which he explained why he’d try to put the McGregor-Mayweather fight together, even though it wasn’t in the best interest of the UFC.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for my business, but I would never keep Conor from making that kind of money.”

One of the issues that would have to be overcome is for a state athletic commission to sanction the fight, though Mayweather told reporters in Russia on Thursday that he wants to fight McGregor in Moscow.

Mayweather, the now-retired superstar, won an Olympic bronze medal in 1996 and then compiled a 49-0 professional record with world titles at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds. When he announced his retirement, he was considered the greatest boxer of his era and one of the best of all-time.

In November, McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously when he added the lightweight belt to the featherweight title he’d won in 2014. But he has never boxed, amateur or pro, and that would make it difficult for an athletic commission to sanction it.

White said he hadn’t even turned his attention to that issue yet.

“We’re so far away from this thing, the athletic commission hasn’t even crossed my mind yet,” White said.

Talks for a fight between Mayweather and McGregor have been ongoing for more than a year. Last May, McGregor coach John Kavanagh joked about the “really fine May weather,” in a post on Twitter that led to speculation a deal was done between the two superstar fighters.

Mayweather has been all over the map on whether or not he’s interested in the bout. On Valentine’s Day, he tweeted that he is happy in retirement and enjoying his life.

The next day, he did a 180 and changed course, urging McGregor to fight.

On Thursday, Bloody Elbow editor Karim Zadin tweeted photos of Mayweather in Chechnya with Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov.

Kadyrov has an unsavory reputation, as was detailed in a 2016 profile of him in the Wall Street Journal:

Since coming into power in 2007, Mr. Kadyrov has tried to silence critics and opponents through killings and kidnappings, human rights analysts said. He has denied the accusations.

Zidan tweeted several photos and a video of Mayweather in Chechnya, including photos of Mayweather eating at what apparently is Kadyrov’s residence.

It’s difficult to know what Mayweather’s stance is given his frequently changing positions. Last week, he was in England and told visitors to a gym that he was coming out of retirement only to fight McGregor.

Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, referred Yahoo Sports to Mayweather’s remarks in England.

“Floyd’s words were concise and to the point, and beyond that, I don’t have any comment,” Ellerbe told Yahoo Sports.

The bout would do massive pay-per-view business, and would likely exceed two million buys and could go as high as three million. Only one fight ever did more than three million, which was the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, which sold a staggering 4.6 million pay-per-views.

This, sadly, seems as if it is going to continue to drag on for several more months. Stay tuned.