Dana White said so, and we took him at his word. When will we learn?
The UFC president is a promoter supreme and is passionate about his sport. He has also been prone to bend, and break, the truth to suit himself and his promotion.
In the past, White has told us Georges St-Pierre would never fight again in the UFC [he is due to return in November], that Anderson Silva would definitely not fight Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 [he did], and that Jon Jones would not headline a pay-per-view event again [at UFC 214, he is].
So, when White declared that Conor McGregor demanded to fight top-ranked lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia, later this year, we should have taken it with a pinch of salt. We didn't. We got carried away.
"You know what Conor told me? He said, ‘I want Khabib in Russia.'
"Isn’t he f***ing awesome? He’s like, ‘I want Khabib, in Russia.’ He’s awesome. Conor McGregor is a f***ing unicorn. There’s nothing like him. He’s working on boxing Floyd Mayweather and then he’s talking about fighting Khabib in Russia right after."
As much as that fight is still an option, Nurmagomedov would have to beat Tony Ferguson in a bout that was pulled from UFC 209 due to weight-cut issues that saw him hospitalised. Even if 'The Eagle' were to defeat Ferguson, there is still the matter of McGregor agreeing to fight in Russia and in a time-zone not conducive to high pay-per-view numbers.
On the latest episode of Fighter and The Kid, former UFC star Brendan Schaub emphatically explained how White had fooled legions of fight fans. He commented:
"Oh, you bought that? [Laughs] See, I always wonder if people will buy that. I've roasted most people for buying into it.
"Of course Conor didn't say that. That's Dana protecting his ass. It puts pressure on Conor to fight in the UFC and defend [his title]."
Schaub added: "[White[ completely made it up. What, Dana lied to the public?! The thing that gets me is that people still buy it. It still gains traction. He's lied so many times; over and over."
The former UFC heavyweight incredulously asked 'in what world' would McGregor agree to fight Nurmagomedov in Russia after his August 26 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. Being huge in Europe, he argues, does not sell PPVs.
Schaub concedes that McGregor may well have told the UFC he will 'fight anyone' and White spun that his own way. He firmly believes McGregor's next fight will be a trilogy fight against Nate Diaz.