Dana White and Conor McGregor weren’t on the best of terms for much of last year, but the UFC president and the former two-division champion seem to have repaired their relationship.
In a recent interview with ESPN, White discussed the rift that occurred when McGregor released a series of private messages regarding a fight with longtime UFC veteran Diego Sanchez. At the time, White called it “one of the dirtiest things you can do.”
"We were in a really bad place then, I was really upset," White said. "It wasn't because he put out private messages. We were talking about another fighter. And I like >Diego Sanchez. I have a lot of respect forDiego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. I talked to Diego face-to-face about it, and being the great human being he is, we're all good.
"I was really upset with Conor, but we fixed that and now we're all good."
McGregor will return to action for the first time in a year when he faces Dustin Poirier in a rematch in the UFC 257 main event on Jan. 23. After the Irish superstar stopped Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in January 2020, he expressed a desire to maintain an active itinerary for the remainder of the year. When that didn’t go as planned, McGregor tweeted out a retirement for the third time in his career before eventually agreeing to a bout against Poirier.
According to White, the McGregor that is training to compete at UFC 257 is the version of the fighter who rose to superstardom from 2013 to 2016 – not the one who has competed infrequently since then.
"The questions are always, 'This guy is so rich, how hungry is he?" White said. "There's nothing more exciting or fun than a motivated Conor McGregor, when his head is in the right place. And you can tell when he is and when he isn't, and right now, he's in. My conversations with Conor, I know when the real Conor is here and the other Conor is here, and believe me when I tell you, the real Conor is here.
"If something happened to Dustin Poirier, he is the Conor McGregor right now that doesn't give a s--- who we put in that fight. He's going to be, 'Who's ready? Who you got? I'm going to the gym, tell me who's showing up on Saturday.' He's that guy right now. That Conor McGregor is back."
Of course, even if McGregor wins, there’s always a possibility he pursues other avenues. For example, last year he teased a boxing match against Manny Pacquiao, although it ultimately didn’t come to fruition.
If McGregor stays focused on his UFC career, a lightweight title shot could be on the horizon.
"The way this kid is right now, mentally, physically, emotionally, this kid is on and ready to fight," White said. "I would love to see him focus on what he can do here in the UFC, whether that's take another shot at the title against Khabib or fight for the title against somebody else if Khabib retires, and defend that title."