Conor McGregor's people rubbish UFC's injury story as another Mexican standoff looms ahead of NYC show
And the plot thickens. If Conor McGregor and the UFC did bury the hatchet following their seismic spat in April, events over the last 24 hours would suggest that it was a transient armistice.
Not that he’d ever concede as much, but when uncoiling a favourable narrative is the task at hand, Dana White has never had much issue with being economical with the truth.
There is a plethora of his employees, past and present, whom frequently attest to that effect.
On Monday night, without the slightest hint of warning, lightweight kingpin Eddie Alvarez laid down the gauntlet to Conor McGregor for a champion-versus-champion showdown for UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, in New York.
It appeared Alvarez was all but confirming what the dogs in the street knew; he and the Dubliner would provide the main event for the promotion’s first ever showcase in the Big Apple.
A bout McGregor is said to be very eager to make happen, given he missed the chance to become the first man ever to concurrently hold two world titles when then champion Rafael Dos Anjos was forced to pull out of UFC 196, and his replacement, Nate Diaz, defeated the SBG man via second round submission.
McGregor, of course, gained his vengeance with a majority decision win over Diaz at UFC 202 last month, though White was adamant that another rematch, this time with Jose Aldo, was the only match up he was willing to make for the most lucrative cash cow in company history.
Neither McGregor nor the fan-base seemed particularly stimulated by that prospect, but White insisted that McGregor meet the man he usurped in 13 seconds or forego his crown.
In response to Alvarez’s calling out of McGregor, White rubbished the notion and made it abundantly clear that the Philadelphian would face the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 205.
Subsequently, on an FS1 broadcast last night, it was revealed that Alvarez had missed the deadline date to sign for the bout and, instead, the pair would meet at UFC 206 in Toronto.
The broadcast also attested that McGregor had yet to recover from the ankle bruising he sustained in overturning Diaz which, according multiple sources close to the 28-year-old, is complete fiction.
Ariel Helwani, the foremost journalist in MMA, confirmed this via MMAfighting.com late last night. Indeed, McGregor is back in Dublin and said to have begun his fight camp, such is his determination to appear at the landmark event.
All this could be a stalling tactic while negotiations are being hammered out, or White might just be pulling rank on McGregor with regards to the sequel with Aldo, who is now the interim champion at 145lbs.
It is odd that Alvarez, a well respected man inside and outside of the cage, would fail to sign on the dotted line for his first title defence within hours of challenging McGregor, the only fighter in the company that can guarantee him a life-changing purse.
The UFC have not lacked transcendent star power so much in quite some time so, to omit McGregor out of some act of spite, would be myopic to say the least.
The UFC have scheduled a press conference in Madison Square Garden for next Tuesday, so watch this space.