Ariel Helwani: It is by no means simple with Conor McGregor and the UFC, however finish result’s all the time value it

When it includes the UFC and Conor McGregor, nothing appears to return simple.

Does not it all the time really feel as if we now have to endure some degree of drama earlier than attending to the top consequence everybody desires to see, which is McGregor competing in MMA?

I imply, simply take a look at the previous few months. That was exhausting stuff, wasn’t it?

Tweets, interviews, passive-aggressive feedback, shade, DMs made public … sheesh.

For the file, none of it felt as if it actually crossed the road. Nonetheless, I do assume releasing the DMs of UFC president Dana White was a misstep by McGregor. In the end, nothing salacious or inflammatory was revealed, however that is a trust-breaker that did not must occur.

What it finally represented to me, although, was McGregor primarily saying sufficient is sufficient. He felt disrespected, was annoyed and snapped. He hated that the narrative being put out within the public was that he did not need to battle or that he was turning down fights. This after he repeatedly stated his plan was to battle thrice this yr.

It was an unlucky byproduct of the previous few months, if not years. Reality is, McGregor and the brass have not seen eye-to-eye for fairly a while, although they’re all the time in a position to put these variations apart, as a result of, effectively, they stand to make a hell of some huge cash collectively. They usually all the time do.

And so, as soon as once more, all’s effectively that ends effectively, as a result of it appears as if we’re on the verge of McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 taking place on Jan. 23. (Although, it’s value noting that no bout agreements have been signed, and Poirier hasn’t formally agreed both, sources say.)

In contrast to the reserving for the McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone bout final January, this information appears to have been met with unanimous reward. Poirier regarded nice in his final battle, a brutal unanimous determination over Dan Hooker in June. Poirier and McGregor have a historical past, and if McGregor desires to battle for the 155-pound belt once more, beating a prime contender like Poirier looks like a good ask.

So it is all good. Apart from one factor. One a part of this equation is gnawing at me.

If the UFC’s final purpose is for McGregor to battle for the light-weight title once more — and I imagine it’s, contemplating White stated on quite a few events earlier than and after the Cerrone battle {that a} McGregor win would equal a title shot, and so they even provided him the chance to be a standby for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson earlier than the pandemic — then why are they reserving McGregor three months after the upcoming light-weight title battle?

The undisputed light-weight title will likely be on the road on Oct. 24, when Nurmagomedov fights Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi at UFC 254. Would not it make sensible enterprise sense to have McGregor battle across the identical time because the light-weight title battle in order that the schedules align?

It is a actual factor on the planet of the UFC. Cory Sandhagen stated as a lot to me on Wednesday’s “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Present.” He stated that he tries to battle across the time the champion in his division competes so his schedule runs parallel to the highest canine at 135. That’s simply sensible. This, in case you do not know, is the case in each division. It is why it made excellent sense to have the Jan Blachowicz vs. Corey Anderson battle per week after the Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes title battle in February, for instance.

So to illustrate Nurmagomedov walks out of UFC 254 comparatively unscathed. Heck, to illustrate Gaethje does the identical. Ideally, you’d need that champion to return within the first quarter of 2021, proper? Nicely, Jan. 23 is a good distance from Oct. 24, and that timeframe all however guidelines out any plan for McGregor preventing for the title within the close to future.

Which brings us to McGregor’s request to battle in 2020, reasonably than on Jan. 23, which was finally denied. Would not it have made a heck of much more sense to have him battle on both Nov. 21 or Dec. 12 — the dates of the following two pay-per-views — in order that if he wins, you possibly can flip him round to battle for the belt in early 2021? I believe so.

Nonetheless, White instructed ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Wednesday that these dates weren’t open as a result of they already had champions booked then. So? You assume Deiveson Figueiredo, who’s scheduled to defend his flyweight title in opposition to Alex Perez on Nov. 21, could be insulted if he had been the co-main to a Conor McGregor battle? No likelihood. How do I do know? I requested his workforce. I really feel assured in saying the opposite two champions booked on these dates — Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes — would really feel the identical. Combating on the identical card as McGregor brings extra eyeballs — and cash.

The UFC shies away from a non-title battle headlining over a title battle, however it has occurred earlier than. McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 1 wasn’t for a belt, and it headlined over Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title. Heck, Gaethje vs. Ferguson was an interim title battle, and that simply headlined over an actual title battle involving Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz in Could.

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Have a look again at Conor McGregor’s greatest moments contained in the UFC Octagon.

White additionally stated he did not need to transfer a champion off a card. That is a superb cause. It is insulting to stated champion. However McGregor by no means requested to maneuver anybody off a card. Neither publicly nor privately, I am instructed.

I imagine the explanation the UFC denied McGregor’s request to battle on both a type of playing cards was as a result of it does not desire a fighter who stands to earn a proportion of the pay-per-view income, which most champions do, to reap the advantages of being on a McGregor PPV, which in all probability would generate someplace between 1-2 million buys, when that fighter did not actually have something to do with that quantity. McGregor, the most important draw within the sport, will get his proportion regardless. However the UFC stands to lose cash when it has to divide the pie a bit extra. That is why McGregor does not battle on the identical card as champions nowadays. He hasn’t since 2016, and any present prime fighter, who’s aware of PPV factors, or their administration, is aware of it is a lengthy shot to land on a McGregor card. It is simply understood. Now, might it occur sooner or later? I suppose so. However the UFC actually shies away from it. The UFC additionally declined to remark for this story.

That is the explanation, I imagine, the UFC would favor McGregor battle on Jan. 23. It is the following obtainable pay-per-view with out a champion already booked on it. In any other case, do not you assume they’d leap on the likelihood to have him battle instantly? Who would not need the income McGregor generates? I imply, if they’d have booked him subsequent month, he might conceivably be able to go once more in January.

So, to recap, this was the sport of chess being performed between the 2 sides.

• White constantly says McGregor is retired and does not need to battle.

• McGregor will get mad and says he’s fighting Manny Pacquiao.

• White brushes off the Pacquiao talks publicly, although the UFC was conscious of them and is on board with exploring the concept of the superfight, per sources.

• McGregor tries through Twitter to e-book a charity fight against Poirier.

UFC offers McGregor the Poirier battle on Jan. 23.

• McGregor accepts the battle however desires it in 2020.

• UFC says no, solely Jan. 23.

McGregor agrees to Jan. 23 however desires the battle to occur at AT&T Stadium, dwelling of the Dallas Cowboys, in order that followers can attend.

If that is not a basic recreation of one-upmanship, I do not know what’s. And as of proper this second, you’d must say the UFC received the battle: McGregor is again, and UFC does not must share his PPV proportion with anybody else.

By the best way, relating to the followers in Texas, the Texas Fee of Licensing and Regulation introduced just lately it could permit followers to fill as much as 50% of a venue, in order that’s why the AT&T Stadium request was made.

Does the UFC make this occur? No phrase simply but.

So, in the long run, McGregor will get pushed to the following obtainable pay-per-view date, which simply so occurs to be three months after the light-weight title is defended.

And, in case you are questioning, Ramadan 2021 begins April 12, which implies the UFC could have solely 14 Saturdays between McGregor-Poirier to e-book McGregor-Nurmagomedov 2, if all goes in keeping with its plans. Nurmagomedov, as you in all probability know by now, is a religious Muslim and will not battle throughout Ramadan or shortly thereafter.

Make no mistake about it, the UFC’s plan and hope is for Nurmagomedov and McGregor to battle one another once more as quickly as potential. It is why the concept of them being coaches on The Final Fighter 2.0 was on the market and why White retains saying that is what they need.

Sure, I do know Nurmagomedov does not appear scorching on the concept. Nurmagomedov has stated he does not assume McGregor deserves a rematch. And it is private. However within the battle recreation, you have to all the time comply with the cash, and the most important cash battle the UFC could make for the foreseeable future is that one. Little question about it.

And finally it’d simply occur. Perhaps the UFC is resigned to the concept it is going to occur subsequent fall, if all goes to plan.

The excellent news for now appears to be that for the primary time in months McGregor is nearer to returning to motion. When it includes the UFC and McGregor, nothing appears to return simple. However the finish result’s value it.

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