Dana White spoke with TMZ sports over the weekend (ht MMAFighting) and was asked about what might be next for UFC lightweight champion Khabib Numagomedov and former champion Conor McGregor. The UFC President seemed to have a clear preference for those men’s futures, but was unsure if what he wants would happen anytime soon.
White made it clear that, should Nurmagomedov beat Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18th, he’d want to see the Dagestani defend versus the Irishman. However, White doesn’t know if McGregor will wait that long. “I don’t know if Conor wants to wait for him. We’ll see what happens. Conor might not wait.”
Should Nurmagomedov beat Ferguson (assuming the fight is not canceled, as it has been on four prior occasions), the current champion may take an extended break from competition. Nurmagomedov is known to diligently observe Ramadan, which includes periods of fasting. With Nurmagomedov unlikely to compete during or soon after this period, his next fight after Ferguson could be in late summer.
With TMZ White also responded to Nurmagomedov’s claims that McGregor ‘handpicks’ his opponents. “Conor does not handpick his opponents,” claimed White. “Conor McGregor has fought anybody that we’ve asked him to fight and who has been available. Guys have pulled out on Conor two or three times. Conor literally went to the gym and said, tell me who I’m fighting.”
On the street White was also asked if he had any interest in Nurmagomedov pursuing a ‘handpicked’ opponent of his own in the form of boxing megastar Floyd Mayweather Jr. Nurmagomedov has periodically announced an interest in fighting Mayweather, just as his rival McGregor did in August 2017.
White offered zero support to any kind of Nurmagomedov vs. Mayweather contest. “Khabib has other fights right now that he needs to focus on instead of Floyd Mayweather.” when pressed on whether he was interested in the fantasy match-up, White simple said, “No.”
Nurmagomedov and McGregor first met at UFC 229 in 2018. The bout came after months of drama, skirmishes, insults and an arrest. Immediately proceeding the fight, which was won via a Numagomedov neck crank, there were shameful scenes in and around the cage; with both fighters brawling with each other’s entourages. The bad blood between the camps spilled out further into the arena, with rival fanbases exchanges punches in the concourses.
With outrage over these incidents at an all-time low, we might — if Dana White has his way — see a repeat of everything that happened in the near future.