Dana White: Conor McGregor kept self off UFC 200; I didn't

ByBrett Okamoto ESPN logo
Thursday, April 28, 2016

The UFC announced its main event for UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas on Wednesday -- and it doesn't feature featherweight champion Conor McGregor.

A light heavyweight title-unification bout between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones will headline the landmark event. Originally, McGregor (19-3) was supposed to fight Nate Diaz at UFC 200, but the UFC pulled the Irish star last week after he refused to fly to Las Vegas for a news conference.

UFC president Dana White has admitted that removing McGregor from the card is an "unpopular" decision, but a necessary one. During a news conference in New York on Wednesday, White said it ultimately was McGregor's decision not to fight at UFC 200, as he was aware of the demands.

"I didn't prevent Conor from fighting at UFC 200," White said. "Everybody, if you look at [last week's] news conference -- Joanna Jedrzejczyk came in from Poland. Claudia Gadelha came in from Brazil. This is what we do. This is how it works.

"I didn't prevent him from fighting at UFC 200. He knew what the deal was. I told him what the deal was. He opted to do that."

White referenced Cormier (17-1) as another example of a champion willing to promote. Cormier, who is based in San Jose, California, initially refused to fly to New York, as it would have forced him to miss his son's school play. The UFC made arrangements to film the play and stream it to Cormier's phone in order to get him to New York.

"He said he wanted to see his kid's performance and believe me, I understand that. I have kids, too," White said. "I respect that. So, we streamed it live to him so he could watch his kid's performance. There were things Conor needed, and I was willing to make sure Conor would have the things he needed when he landed in Las Vegas, when he came to New York or wherever else we went.

"This isn't we say, 'Hey, you have to do this.' I will bend and try to make it work for these guys and girls. That's the truth, the whole truth."

McGregor, 27, retweeted a sarcastic post just as the UFC's New York news conference got underway. Essentially, the post inferred UFC 200 would not produce the same level of business it would have had McGregor remained involved.

White spoke highly of McGregor on Wednesday, however, and said he would still fight later this year. White has said McGregor's next fight would likely need to be a featherweight title defense against either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar, unless he wants to vacate his belt.

"I've said it a million times, Conor asked to fight Nate Diaz and Conor wants to fight Nate Diaz," White said. "Conor doesn't back down from fights, man. One of the things that has made Conor popular and as big as he is, is this dude wants to fight. He comes to fight. He comes out guns blazing. Conor is fun. Conor is a stud. I have a lot of respect for Conor. Conor and I just had -- you know, you have to show up and do the PR. You have to do it."

White told ESPN he wasn't aware of any change made to ticket prices once McGregor was off the event. Tickets to UFC 200 go on sale to the general public on Friday.

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