There was a lot of talk after Conor McGregor pocketed nearly $AU137 million for fighting Floyd Mayweather last year that he’d never fight again.
Not only is he going to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the lightweight title on Oct. 6 at UFC 229, he’s going to be around for a while after that.
UFC president Dana White confirmed an ESPN report that McGregor had signed a six-fight extension with the promotion.
As part of the deal, McGregor’s new whiskey brand will get a spot on the mat whenever he fights.
It’s huge news for the UFC, which for a variety of reasons has lacked that signature star who could sell large numbers of pay-per-views and who commands worldwide media attention.
Ronda Rousey retired after back-to-back losses, Jon Jones has been suspended for the last year and McGregor hasn’t fought in the UFC since winning the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez in New York on Nov. 12, 2016, at UFC 205.
During the news conference to promote the Nurmagomedov fight, McGregor spoke several times of his love of fighting. He’s been on the Forbes list of the highest paid athletes for the last two years, and doesn’t need to fight again to make a living.
“I came back for the love of fighting and the love of war,” McGregor said.
“In this one, I’m going to truly, truly love putting a bad, bad beating on this little glass-jaw rat.”
He made his presence known loudly Thursday in a remarkable performance in which he showed his quick wit and ability to market a fight.
White, who had been among those who questioned whether McGregor would ever fight again after earning an $AU116 million guarantee to box Mayweather last year, was predictably ecstatic while speaking to ESPN about McGregor’s extension.
“It’s not hard to do a deal with Conor McGregor because we know what he’s worth.
Six fights should keep McGregor around for at least two more years. Terms of the deal were not announced.
UFC boss’s scary call after McGregor-Khabib face-off
Dana White says he’s never seen a darker press conference in his 17 years as UFC boss.
Amid the antics and theatrics and the tried-and-true one-liners, there was genuine hatred from Conor McGregor towards Khabib Nurmagomedov on Friday.
Conor is always going to do Conor so it was little surprise that here on the stage at Radio City Music Hall, he spent almost as much time pitching his whiskey line as his return to the UFC on October 6.
But there was something else going as McGregor unleashed a torrent of insults and animosity in the direction of Nurmagomedov, the 26-0 lightweight champion.
The hate might actually, for once, be real. McGregor is always wild and this was no different.
Yet in the past, while he’s been entertaining and inflammatory you could practically see him trying to find a way to truly dislike a Jose Aldo or Nate Diaz or Eddie Alvarez.
His run up to the 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather was really just performance art, the two were partners in printing money and little more.
Everyone was in on the gag – a profane, politically incorrect gag, but still. Mayweather would incite the masses and Mayweather would carry him for enough rounds that no one felt ripped off.
Friday was different, and White certainly noticed.
“These guys hate each other worse than I’ve ever seen,” White said after the presser, describing it was the darkest he’d seen in his 17 years at the top of the UFC.