Over the years, UFC President Dana White has anointed several different fighters as the best pound-for-pound guy in the sport. Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Anthony Pettis, Renan Barao, and Demetrious Johnson have all, at one point or another, been bestowed with that illustrious moniker. Now we can add one more to that hallowed pantheon.
Sitting down with The Michael Kay Show on Thursday, White discussed many things, among them his mercurial lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who he called the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport after his accomplishments at UFC 205.
"When you talk about the pound-for-pound, they don't have Conor McGregor as the pound-for-pound - the media does the ratings - when you talk about what pound-for-pound really means, how is it not Conor McGregor? The guy was the  pound champion,  pound champion, and beat a guy at 170 [pounds]. That's what pound-for-pound really means."
McGregor was the first simultaneous two-weight champion in UFC history after dethroning Eddie Alvarez in the main event of UFC 205. He "relinquished" his featherweight title shortly afterwards, though McGregor maintains he is still the two weight world champion. The win moved him up to number two on the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings behind longtime flyweight kingpin, Demetrious Johnson. Prior to that win, he was submitted by sixth-ranked lightweight Nate Diaz in a welterweight bout before avenging the loss, winning a five round unanimous decision at UFC 202.
The win at UFC 205 made McGregor the single biggest star in the history of MMA and subsequently, also the most powerful one. For a while now, McGregor has branded himself as the fighter who "runs the whole game" and ti's never been more true than right now. Still, when speaking of McGregor's insistence that he's bigger than the sport, White cautions the Irish superstar not to get too big for his britches.
"People start to get ahead of themselves and they start to get crazy. The one thing, ego is a beautiful thing in the fight business. You have to have it. But ego destroys everything. Ego destroys the best - Guns and Roses can't get together in the last ten years to put together another album or tour and play - it's ego. The lists goes on and on of friendships and businesses and rock groups that have all broken up because of ego. It's a dangerous thing sometimes too. You have to be careful. There's a fine line with ego."
The general consensus in the MMA world is that McGregor crossed that line earlier this year when he refused to meet media obligations for UFC 200 and was pulled from the card as a result. That incident led to McGregor's infamous retirement tweet and the ensuing fallout that echoed through even the mainstream media. Since then there's been, real or imagined, a perceived tension between McGregor and the UFC power structures, exacerbated when after UFC 205 McGregor began demanding equity in the company and mentioned that the new UFC owners had yet to speak with their brightest star. White did his best to disperse this notion along with the idea that the UFC could suffer is McGregor really does decide to retire or attempts to chase down a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Conor and I are very cool. Do I put up with a lot of different stuff with this guy? Yeah, I do because he's worth it and he's different. But I'll tell you this, people always ask, 'What are you gonna do when Chuck Liddell retires? What are you gonna do when Anderson Silva's gone? What are you gonna do when GSP's gone? What are you gonna do when this guy's gone?' The list goes on and on...16 years later, it's no different. Everybody was saying, 'What's gonna happen to the NBA when Michael Jordan retires?'..If you're a fight fan, we bring you great fights."
And as with all things Conor McGregor, the name Nate Diaz wasn't far behind. Many suspected that Diaz would be the first challenger for McGregor's lightweight title after UFC 205, a rubber match that is quite possible the biggest possible fight the UFC could put together. And though McGregor has previously suggested some interest in settling their rivalry once and for all (and Diaz is basically just waiting for that to happen) White has very little interest in the idea.
"The problem with the rubber match is Diaz is a 170 pounder. He's a massive guy. Conor is a very talented guy, he's very, very good. Every time he goes out there he looks better... [But] we should have never done it in the first place. That's what weight classes are for. They wanted to do it, we did it. They wanted to do it again, we did it again. They're 1-1.
"There's only so many of those wars you can be in in your career. It takes a lot out of you. Some guys go into wars like that and they're never the same after it. Look at Meldrick Taylor when he fought Julio Cesar Chavez. He was never the same after that fight. We've had those type of fights too. I believe that Rory MacDonald was never the same after the Robbie Lawler fight. That fight ruined him. I don't want to do that to someone special like Conor McGregor. It's just not right."
But White may ultimately end up wishing he pushed for the Diaz trilogy as there's another "war" possibly looming in McGregor's. Both McGregor and UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley have expressed interest in fighting for the welterweight title at some point in the future. And while Diaz competed for most of his career at lightweight, Woodley is a true welterweight. A win for McGregor would absolutely substantiate White's claims that he's the best pound-for-pound fighter, but whether White would be willing to risk it is another matter entirely.
...And out come the wolves. Cris Cyborg tested positive for a diuretic and is facing a one year suspension.
Weight cutting. Cris Cyborg explains her positive test being the result of a prescribed medication.
Reactions. Professional fighters reacted to Cyborgs positive USADA test.
Big change. Gabi Garcia's new Rizin opponent is a 49-year-old professional wrestler.
Fix it. Iann Kidd opines on what changes should be made to USADA going forward.
Expansion. I wrote about expanding women's weight classes in the UFC and the consequences of doing so.
Frank Mir answers a bunch of questions.
Amanda made TMZ.
Dana responding to Cyborg's failed test.
Tonya Evinger interview.
Alan Belcher teaching Karate.
Full Statement: Cris Cyborg Explains Everything, Including What She Failed For And More https://t.co/m5zBXsSUSo— Cris Cyborg (@criscyborg) December 22, 2016
Fighters being real cool about this I see.
I don't care what y'all say. USADA is fighter of the year. Should be ranked top of MMA's p4p list they way they're taking out fighters— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) December 22, 2016
Looks okay to me.
I'd probably hate me too pic.twitter.com/4iRbJXgsYE— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 23, 2016
@TheNotoriousMMA you wouldn't. You'd take it as positive inspiration to try harder. I know this because I've seen it.— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) December 23, 2016
I mean, you just fought one of those guys.......
All these top LWs talking about fighting and not fighting eachother! Send contracts my way #justfight ☝ ☝— Michael Johnson (@FollowTheMenace) December 23, 2016
The fight business in 2016....— Jeremy Stephens (@LiLHeathenMMA) December 22, 2016
Asking any fighter on the roster to fight... 6 weeks later, nothing but guys hiding behind excuses.
Up for awards and stuff.
Kings MMA doing the Mannequin Challenge with Iron Mike.
After nearly 20 professional fights in my career this was one of the most intense "on deck" holding periods I've had. There's a lot of layers to this sport that never get seen before 2 guys step foot in the cage. Mental periods. Other than the weeks of preparation there is this last minute moment. Where your opponent is just on the other side of that curtain and you are waiting to make your walk to the octagon. I could hear him and his team hollaring next to me. Also Joe Rogans voice and mine playing throughout the arena on the the promo. The whole time I was watching it on TV right in front me. Staring at my opponent trying to control my anger and keep focus. This is where the switch has to be flipped and your belief has to be its strongest! These moments get lost and become a blur when you are so focused. I love when my team captures things like this and you can relive it again!
I've decided to run a little competition over the next week. I enjoy when people send me fan art and different edits of my pictures via social media. So for the next week send me your best shots/drawings/artwork and I'll pick 3 winners. Tag #ArtOfAChampion with your posts. Those 3 winners will become my new profile pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You'll receive full credit and we will send you out an autographed shirt and I'll get one of my sponsors to chip in something as well. No clue what, but I'll make sure it's awesome. You can enter as many times as you want, but you can not win more than 1 spot. I will pick my 3 winners on sometime on January 1, 2017. So good luck everyone! #andstill #artofachampion #ufc
Gabi Garcia (3-0) vs. Yumiko Hotta (5-4); Rizin 4, December 31.
Nathan Diaz is 10 feet tall and made of railroad ties and when he walks it makes the ground tremble.
Enjoy your holiday weekend to those who celebrate. See you next week!
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