Video: Watch UFC leaders discuss Ronda Rousey and a possible Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight
It’s not enough to discuss the three nights of cards connected to UFC 200 fight week.
There’s also Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre.
In an extended conversation with The Times on Tuesday, UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta and President Dana White addressed their organization’s most popular fighters who aren’t fighting this weekend.
Venice’s Rousey will be in town to support her heavyweight boyfriend, Travis Browne, in his UFC 200 fight against former champion Cain Velasquez, and McGregor will be here Thursday to promote his UFC 202 rematch against Nate Diaz at T-Mobile Arena.
Former women’s bantamweight champion Rousey is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on her right knee, and she might not be healthy enough to fight in the UFC’s anticipated New York debut at Madison Square Garden in November.
“She’ll be back fighting for the UFC. I think she’ll be back by the first of the year,” White said. “Whenever she comes back, whoever has the belt, she will fight.”
As for the surprise that charismatic featherweight champion McGregor wants to rematch Diaz at welterweight after losing to him by second-round submission in March, White explained:
“This guy has stepped up and taken fights on 11 days’ notice when -- the type of money he’s earning -- guys don’t do that. He’s done it twice now. When Lorenzo and I drove out to [McGregor’s Las Vegas home], the McMansion, right after he lost, this guy was adamant that this is what he wanted. So how do we sit there and tell him no, when he’s done what he’s done in taking these big fights?”
Said Fertitta: “We sat down with him and he said, ‘I don’t want to fight anybody else but Diaz, I need you to make that rematch.’ We said, ‘Why don’t you think about taking it at [lightweight] 155 [pounds]. You’re going to end up in your career at 155, Nate’s true weight is 155 … and Conor’s just like, ‘It won’t mean anything if I beat him at 155. I have to avenge this loss.’
“That’s where the intrigue lies, and why it’s going to be such a big fight that people will want to buy and check out … this isn’t the most intuitive thing in the world for a fighter the magnitude of Conor McGregor. That’s why he’s an interesting person and people want to follow him.”
As for the talk that McGregor could meet Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the future, White said, “Anything is possible, but that one … I don’t know.”
Though Showtime executive vice president Stephen Espinoza said he’d welcome a conversation with Fertitta and White about such a bout, White said he would argue that the fight should permit “elbows, kicks and punches,” and not just be a boxing exhibition.
“For as amazing a fighter as Conor McGregor is, let’s face it, Floyd Mayweather is the greatest boxer to ever live,” Fertitta said.
There’s also great intrigue with Brock Lesnar, whose competitive vigor could complicate plans for what the WWE has said is a one-fight appearance at UFC 200.
What if Lesnar wins impressively against top-10 heavyweight Mark Hunt?
“He’s under contract with the WWE. One and done,” White said.
Fertitta admitted that if Lesnar wins, “I’m sure he’ll pick up the phone and try again [to fight in the UFC], but there’s no deal. There’s no final plan.”
As for the talk of a comeback by former welterweight champion St-Pierre, White said, “Never, no way.”
“That’s the one thing we disagree on,” Fertitta said. “Dana’s been right so far, but we’ve been in active discussions with [St-Pierre’s] management for a long time. We’d love to have him back, he’d make a great impact.
“Talking to him, it feels like he still has things he wants to accomplish. We’ll have to see how that all plays out.”
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