Friday 2 December 2016

'Scumbags looking for clicks' - UFC president rubbishes stories of rift with Conor McGregor

Tom Rooney

Published 17/01/2016 | 12:44

Conor McGregor has big plans for the future
Conor McGregor has big plans for the future

The UFC have traditionally put their own brand ahead of any one fighter, though the meteoric rise of Conor McGregor has many observers speculating that the status quo is now being challenged.

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It’s a well established fact that Conor McGregor believes he occupies a higher stratosphere than any of his contemporaries, but does he feel the same away about his employers?

Rumours of a rift between the Dubliner and the company’s top brass have been doing the rounds of late, with some pitting them against one another in an inevitable power struggle.

Unquestionably, McGregor, through flawless performances inside the cage and an impressive business savvy, has achieved a level of prominence within the UFC that's far from the norm.

Case in point, in the aftermath of his victory over Jose Aldo at UFC 194, the newly-minted featherweight champion held his own press conference, and stated, unequivocally, that should he decide to challenge for the lightweight crown, he would not vacate the title he had just won.

This is in spite of the fact that UFC president Dana White had literally just said that’s precisely what he’d have to do. 

Well, we now all know who came out on top of that particular issue. On March 5, the SBG export faces lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 197 where, if successful, he will become the first man ever to simultaneously hold two titles.

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Even when news of the bout first broke, McGregor released his own press release via Facebook, which contained not one mention of the UFC.

All of the above is, quite simply, unheard of. McGregor’s ability to generate pay-per-view figures and gate revenues that none of peers come close to (barring Ronda Rousey) does provide him with a stellar bargaining chip every time he sits down at the negotiating table.

Inevitably, and perhaps deservedly, the 27-year-old will continue to demand a bigger piece of the pie from a company that have notoriously underpaid its athletes. The consensus now is that more and more fighters will follow suit or, as some are doing currently, test the waters as free agents.

Dana White can be irascible at the best of times, notably when any of his business practices are questioned and, accordingly, he took to Twitter last night to dismiss any notion of a feud between him and McGregor.

Even coach John Kavanagh weighed in on what is apparently a ludicrous notion. However, the higher McGregor’s star rises, the more power he’ll wield. Watch this space, because interesting times lay ahead.

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