ESPN- The UFC has offered Conor McGregor a fight against Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23, 2021 -- and according to UFC president Dana White, that's the date. Take it or leave it.
The promotion formally offered McGregor the Jan. 23 fight against Poirier late last month, shortly after McGregor proposed a charity exhibition match against Poirier in December. Last week, McGregor announced on social media that he had "accepted" the UFC's offer, but said the fight must happen on one of the UFC's Nov. 21 or Dec. 12 pay-per-views.
UFC 255 on Nov. 21 has two title fights booked, as does UFC 256 on Dec. 12. White said he is not willing to rearrange the schedule to accommodate McGregor's request.
"We offered him a fight, we got him his own date," White told ESPN. "We didn't have a date this year. We have everything laid out for this year, with world champions fighting for titles. He wants to fight Dustin Poirier apparently, so we went to [broadcast partner] ESPN and got him his own date. He's been offered Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23. It's a yes or no answer."
White said he does not know why McGregor is adamant he has to fight prior to Jan. 23. "I have no clue," White said.
UFC 255 features a male flyweight title bout between Deiveson Figueiredo and Alex Perez, and a female flyweight title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jennifer Maia. UFC 256 will feature dual-weight champ Amanda Nunes defending her featherweight title against Megan Anderson, and bantamweight champ Petr Yan against Aljamain Sterling.
When asked whether there was any chance the UFC could move some of those fights around to meet McGregor's timeline, White said the company could not.
"That's not how it works," White said. "We laid out this year. He was retired. Would anybody disagree he was retired? Through this crazy pandemic year we're going through, we faced a lot of challenges. There were a lot of things done to make this thing work. We made it happen. We have our schedule laid out. Fighters have committed to it. Fighters have started training for these fights. Conor came back and wants to fight Dustin, so we went out and got him his own date. It's Jan. 23."
We've got a reeeeaaaal head-scratcher of a story here coming outta ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
Dana White essentially said today that he/the UFC are refusing to rearrange the company's schedule to accommodate Conor McGregor's sorta last-minute request to fight Dustin Poirier before the year is over.
I don't quite understand why the UFC is super against this, because in my eyes, if Conor McGregor wants to fight one of the top contenders in the lightweight division at this point in his career, and I'm Dana, I'm doing everything in my power as a promoter to make sure we get contracts signed ASAP - but I'm not Dana. I'm actually, in fact, the biggest Conor McGregor nuthugger on the planet.
I don't have everything laid out in front of me, with 2020 PPV numbers and 2021 PPV projections to meet, and I don't know why some exceptions can't be made to get McGregor back in the cage - especially considering exceptions have been made for him in the past - but obviously there's something obviously afoot here. Maybe he just REEEEAAAALLLLLLYYY went out of his way to get Conor his own date (Jan. 23rd) and he's pissed that he wants it to change now? I dunno - but I don't think it's just a power play by Dana like some people are suggesting.
I'd say the most confusing part of this whole story, though, is that UFC 255 (one of the dates both McGregor and Poirier are willing to fight on) just LOST its main event in Deiveson Figueiredo vs Cody Garbrandt, and while Alex Perez is stepping up and Valentina Shevchenko's in the co-main....those aren't necessarily the most PPV-worthy names to try to sell to non-hardcore fans. I don't know why they wouldn't see this request by Conor as a blessing in disguise and scramble to get it together.
I assume we'll find out in the coming days, though.....or they'll walk back on this proclamation like they walked back on McGregor vs Cowboy being a co-main event: