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UFC’s Dana White: ‘Don’t compare Conor McGregor to Floyd Mayweather’

Because Conor McGregor’s stand-up fighting was so impressive while capturing an unprecedented second simultaneously worn UFC belt last weekend, a mythical fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. became extended fodder for television debaters this week.

UFC President Dana White, in a conversation with The Times this week inside his office, said he doesn’t know if such a fight could ever be negotiated and staged, but he did want to draw distinctions between the pair.

“Floyd plays the game in the sport of boxing where he can do his defense, pitter-patter, hide and run, play all his games,” White said. “He doesn’t touch people and drop them. Ninety-eight percent of his fights have been absolutely boring. If you love the pure defense of boxing, you can appreciate what he does, but as a fighter, Floyd isn’t a fighter. He’s not a guy who captures the imagination of fight fans all over the world. A Floyd Mayweather fight will put people to sleep.

“Conor McGregor puts people to sleep with his hands and people who are watching go crazy. Floyd Mayweather says, ‘Don’t compare me to Conor McGregor.’ …

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“You’re ... right! Don’t compare Conor McGregor to Floyd Mayweather. Because they’re not even in the same class when it comes to entertainment, fighting and what they’re able to do to opponents.”

White said he expects McGregor to be on the shelf until the fighter’s girlfriend, Dee Devlin, gives birth to their first child with a due date in May.

He also said he “hates the conversation” about a potential McGregor-Mayweather fight that was revisited following McGregor’s five-knockdown, second-round knockout victory of former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

The bout not only generated a fighting-record $17.7 million live gate at historic Madison Square Garden, it pulled McGregor, 28, within reach of matching the calendar-year record 4.9 million pay-per-view buys that Mayweather amassed at age 38 in 2015.

Mayweather, who’ll turn 40 in February after retiring in September 2015, told reporters Wednesday in New York that he’ll never fight again, and he sent away a reporter who asked about the potential of fighting McGregor.

But there are important people on both sides of the fight game who would like to make the novelty event, and White said Mayweather friend 50 Cent told him that Mayweather has confided to close friends that he’s interested.

While it’d be ideal for Mayweather (49-0) to fight McGregor in a regulation boxing ring, White says since he has McGregor under contract, “I’m the promoter,” and suggested a meeting in the octagon that would include the use of knees, kicks and elbows.

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One possible compromise would be a boxing match inside a UFC octagon with 4-ounce gloves, a scenario that virtually every boxing expert says heavily favors Mayweather. The gambling website, Bovada, on Friday listed McGregor as a 10/1 underdog.

White countered that those experts aren’t factoring McGregor’s punching length from a left-handed stance, his supreme confidence and mind-bending swagger.

Within the past year, McGregor knocked out featherweight champion Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to end his 10-year unbeaten streak, he avenged a welterweight loss to former title challenger Nate Diaz at welterweight and then took Alvarez’s belt in an emphatic showing.

“What he did is – nobody ever wants to compare anybody to Muhammad Ali, because Ali is such a massive icon – but when you look at Conor, his mental warfare game is second to none,” White said.

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“He’s so sharp and quick-witted that when you ask him a question, everything that comes out of his mouth is genius.

“Ali didn’t touch people and dropped them to the floor – just the way that Conor McGregor does. And when he touches you, no matter what weight class, you either get hurt or go to sleep. He finishes people in the manner and round he says he will. Guys who watch it look around and say, ‘What?’ When he said he was going to drop Jose Aldo in the first round, I said, ‘He’s completely over-selling himself.’ Doing it … wow! This kid is special. You have to respect what he’s been able to do.”

McGregor’s rise has produced four of the five top-selling pay-per-views in UFC history since December.

For White, that’s another contrast that should be drawn, considering the backlash boxing has been subjected to following Mayweather’s yawner over Manny Pacquiao last year in the richest one-day sporting event in history.

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“Conor McGregor’s a huge part about building his sport,” White said. “Floyd Mayweather is not. He’s one of its killers.”


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