When Conor McGregor came out of nowhere at BKFC 41, many seasoned combat sports observers expected he’d get a testy phone call from the UFC. After all, the industry leader doesn’t take kindly to co-promoting, much less loaning out its biggest star for a platform from which it doesn’t directly benefit.
After McGregor faced off with BKFC 41 headliner Mike Perry and slung a BKFC belt over his shoulder, BKFC President David Feldman revealed that the former two-division champ expected to hear about it from his promoter.
But that wasn’t the case, McGregor said in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani.
“I don’t know [if the UFC was mad],” McGregor said. “No one said anything. The UFC is where it’s at, no matter what. There isn’t nothing above the UFC, and there isn’t nothing that ever will be, and that’s the truth. So I’m sure they had no problem.”
UFC President Dana White said as much despite the free publicity given to a competitor — albeit a distant, distant competitor — when asked about McGregor’s appearance.
If McGregor wasn’t under contract, he said he would definitely take a bare-knuckle fight.
“I would do it,” McGregor said. “Yes I would do it, and I’d be happy to do it. It’s hard to get a boring fight in it, and it’s actually almost impossible for a boring fight to happen in it, and I’ll tell you why – no other discipline or sport can say that there’s a zero percent chance of having a boring fight.
“Boxing can be a snoozefest, MMA can be a snoozefest — there’s no chance of a boring fight in bare-knuckle because even if it is just a back-and-forth jab match, even a jab splits the skin. So from the split skin causes panic in the ring, and the crowd rises, and there’s zero chance of a boring fight. So it’s interesting. I’d be up for it, for sure. Why not?”
Perry capitalized perfectly on the moment by asking for a staredown with McGregor, who eventually complied. The Irish star said he was prepared for anything but was happy that things didn’t go south.
“I didn’t know how that was going to go,” McGregor said. “You know yourself, it could have gone any way. I would have been ready. Fair play to him.”
BKFC 41 co-headliner Eddie Alvarez gave McGregor an in-ring acknowledgment when he landed an uppercut his former opponent called for against Chad Mendes. Alvarez later joked that the help was for Mendes, but McGregor said he backed both fighters.
“I fought both lads, and when you’ve fought someone, you’ve got respect after a knock,” he said. “You were asking who I was coaching — I was actually helping them both. Chad, I knew what was going to happen. I thought Chad, way more power, way more explosive. I thought Eddie, a little bit tougher. ... Eddie’s tough motherf*****, too, and he also goes into this mode. I’ve seen him where he doesn’t know what’s happening. You hit him, and he goes into, like, zombie mode or robo mode, kind of like Nate [Diaz], but in a different way.
“So I felt that Mendes was going to hurt him, and drop him, but Eddie, he’s going to get back, he’s going to get back to his feet, and then he’s going to that mode and start getting the better of him and break him down, and that’s exactly what happened. So I was kind of cornering, but in my head, I was saying, ‘I hope ... they take them out safe.’ I enjoyed it.”
Below is Helwani’s full interview.