TORONTO — Dana White has taken on a familiar role this week: breaking up faceoffs between agitated fighters.
The UFC president is not promoting Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, but he has been on the dais. And White said Wednesday here at Budweiser Stage that he has had a very good reason for separating Mayweather and McGregor.
“Al Haymon gave me specific directions,” White said of Mayweather’s mysterious advisor. “To make sure that Conor McGregor does not touch Floyd Mayweather. I’ll be in the middle.”
White said Tuesday in Los Angeles on the first stop of the MayMac World Tour that the ball really got rolling on negotiations for this fight when he went on FS1 and offered McGregor and Mayweather both $25 million to do it. Mayweather was caught by TMZ soon after, laughing off the offer and saying he would only come out of retirement for $100 million or more.
Soon after that, White said, he got a call from Haymon, Mayweather’s close advisor, who makes many moves behind the scenes but is seen so rarely in public that there are only just a few photographs of him on the Internet. Haymon was not in attendance Wednesday here, White said.
McGregor, based on his words and actions, feels like Showtime and Mayweather Promotions are stacking the deck against him this week. The Irishman’s mic was cut off Tuesday in Los Angeles while Mayweather was talking. Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza said Wednesday that the issue there was a technical one at Staples Center and not the fault of Showtime. McGregor didn’t seem to buy that, calling Espinoza a “f*cking weasel” during the in-arena show.
“It was weird how it happened,” White said. “We’re dealing with some things that we’re not used to dealing with. Plus, for me, being the control freak that I am, I have minimal control in all of this. But you have a lot of different people in the mix.”
White and the UFC’s PR staff is here, as is Showtime, Mayweather Promotions and McGregor’s team. White said he wanted to be “one and done” Tuesday in promoting MMA fighters against boxers, though he was conspicuously wearing a “Zuffa Boxing” shirt Wednesday in Toronto. The UFC stands to make money on this fight, of course, White said, but there are other motives.
“This is for Conor,” White said. “Listen, are we gonna make money? We’re absolutely gonna make money. We’re gonna make money, those guys are gonna make money. But at the end of the day, the only reason why I even considered doing this is for Conor.
“I don’t want to say I’d never do it again, because I said I’d never do it. So, I don’t know. Obviously we’ll see how this whole thing plays out in the end and where we end up when it’s over.”
White got a bit giddy when asked what it would be like if McGregor knocked out Mayweather on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.
“If he knocks out Floyd Mayweather, man, it’s gonna be incredible,” White said. “It’ll probably be the biggest upset in sports history and he’d be the biggest athlete on any planet.”