Conor McGregor has had to once again adjust his camp as Rafael dos Anjos has pulled out of his bout in UFC 196, but Dana White stated that when he revealed the bad news to him McGregor was incredibly relaxed.
Speaking to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani ahead of the fight between Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva in London, White revealed that while it’s always tough to put a huge fight like that together only for it to fall apart, “I’m getting used to it now, so taking a little better than I used to”.
However, he stated that, thanks to Conor McGregor’s attitude, getting another fight lined up quickly was made incredibly easy.
White was full of praise for McGregor, saying “I’ve been doing this for 16 years here in the UFC and I’ve been in the fight business for a long time. You don’t pick up the phone and have conversations anymore with guys, like you have with Conor McGregor. There’s a lot of people who talk publicly, ‘I’ll do this, I’ll fight anybody’, [but] nobody really means it when you’re on the phone”.
“When you’re on the phone and you’re not in front of a press conference or doing interviews, you don’t really mean it. This guy means it. He’s moving from 145 lbs to 170 lbs and he keeps this fun man. It’s fun. He will literally fight anybody”.
White revealed that McGregor’s reaction when he found out the bad news about Dos Anjos was a relaxed one: “when we called him and told him what was going on, first he was like ‘you gotta be kidding me’ when he found out that Dos Anjos broke his foot. And then he was like ‘alright, well, I’m getting to the gym right now, I’ll fight anybody. you pick it, I’ll fight anybody. Let me know who I’m fighting, I’ll call you tomorrow'”.
The UFC head honcho added that “there’s no reason for me to make this sh*t up, it doesn’t matter. We have a fight and whatever’s happening is happening. But this guy is the real deal”.
“He’s a throwback,” added White, “he reminds me of Chuck Liddell and these guys that […] just wanted to fight. Now I’ll pick up the phone to guys who will make millions of dollars and they don’t want to fight”.
White also revealed that there were a number of names in the running for the fight before they eventually confirmed that it would be Nate Diaz, including BJ Penn, Anthony Pettis and Urijah Faber, as well as Frankie Edgar.
Addressing speculation that the relationship between McGregor and himself becoming a bit more fraught, White was incredibly clear that those rumours were totally false:
“Not only is there not a rift between Conor and I […] I don’t know who I respect more than him as a fighter”.