UFC President Dana White said he expects to renew discussions with Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s side next week for a boxing match with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, and made it clear he believes McGregor’s value is significant.
“Who doesn’t think that Conor isn’t a global star?” White told reporters Friday at the grand opening of the UFC’s new $12-million Performance Institute. “I think Conor is bigger than [Manny] Pacquiao — when [he and Mayweather] fought.”
The 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao bout at MGM Grand shattered pay-per-view (4.6 million buys) and live-gate ($72 million) records, with Mayweather getting a 60% cut of the purse compared to Pacquiao’s 40%.
White earlier this week struck a deal with McGregor on how to divide money between the fighter and the company, and he hinted that he already has engaged in some discussion with Mayweather’s manager, Al Haymon, who told at least one person this week that he hasn’t spoken to anyone from the UFC about a Mayweather-McGregor fight.
“He’s going to make a couple bucks,” White said of McGregor. “If this fight goes off and if it does what everyone thinks it’s going to do, Conor’s going to make a lot of money.
“On Mayweather’s side, it’s about whether we can come to a deal to make this fight or not.”
The placement of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight title fight on Sept. 16 is believed to have forced a possible Mayweather-McGregor meeting to another month.
“That was the date we were planning. But first, can we get a deal done?” White said.
White clarified that the undercard would be filled with boxing matches likely tp featire Mayweather Promotions’ thin stable of fighters.
“It’s going to be a typical boxing match, where it’s all about the main event, not the undercard,” White said, not missing the opportunity to jab the rival combat sport. “That’s boxing.”
Would it help reach Mayweather’s likely nine-figure request for a guaranteed purse to have Showtime help distribute the pay-per-view, too?
“I don’t know. We’ve got to sit down,” White said. “This won’t be a UFC event. It’s going to be a boxing event. International [broadcast rights are] going to be wide open. The slate is clear on our side to do whatever. I don’t know what obstacles they have to clear on their side … [if] they have a Showtime deal, and what other things are lying in there … we don’t know until we start negotiating.
“When you get in there and start negotiating, you’ll know real quick if we can do a deal or not, and what the split is.”
White said McGregor would be poised to move on quickly if Mayweather’s financial demands are too exorbitant. White said McGregor has told him that he wants two fights by the end of the year.
As for the concern that Mayweather (49-0) would severely damage the UFC brand if he should pick apart the organization’s most-skilled striker, White said he’s not fretting that.
“People realize Conor is stepping into a one-dimensional game, whereas over here [in the UFC] it’s a fight. … In a real fight, McGregor kills him in 30 seconds,” White said.
“This is a boxing match. He’s going in to box. We’ll see how it goes. One thing for sure, Conor will fight him. Conor will go after him and we’ll see what happens.”
The extreme interest over a matchup between the 40-year-old Mayweather, who retired in September 2015 as the No. 1-rated pound-for-pound boxer, and the UFC’s only active two-division champion makes the bout worth pursuing fervently, White said.
“They want to fight. This wasn’t me. I didn’t say, ‘Let’s go chase Mayweather around and see if we can get a fight,’” White said.
“Those two organically started talking to each other. This happened. And you can say it’s not a fight or whatever, but it’s all anyone wants to talk about. Everywhere I go, everything I do, that’s all they want to talk about. … People can say it’s ridiculous, it’s lopsided, it should never happen … it is all everyone is talking about.”