Ahead of UFC 217 this weekend in Madison Square Garden, Dana White joined the Jim Rome Podcast. After breaking records with the company’s first event in New York City, White plans for this weekend’s events to be just as historic, three title fights on the card and the long-awaited return of former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. After four years away from the sport, St. Pierre will fight middleweight champion Michael Bisping. It’s an intriguing match-out that White can’t wait to see, and a layoff from the octagon that the head of UFC can’t quite explain.
“I don’t know why he’s coming back. Only he knows that,” White said. “I questioned for a very long time whether he still wanted to fight. He flew out to Vegas, we had dinner one night, and he assured me he was going to come back and he wanted to do this. So here we are.”
White also wasn’t sure why St. Pierre decided to move up from welterweight to middleweight to fight Bisping. But he does know that it pissed off the champ.
“A lot of people believe that 170 pounds division is scary—there’s straight killers—number one to five is nasty,” White said, speaking of St. Pierre’s old welterweight division. “I think part of the reason why Michael Bisping has been so nasty to Georges St. Pierre is because he’s completely offended that Georges St. Pierre, after a four years lay off, wants to fight him at 185 pounds.”
Although St. Pierre assured the UFC his head and health were in good places for a serious return to the sport, White said only time will tell.
“Once you start to make millions and millions of dollars. I don’t care what you do for a living. It’s hard to be hungry after making that much money,” White said. “He thinks he can come back and Bisping is going to be the easiest fight for him. But at the end of the day, Bisping never got the big fame that all these other guys got when they were champions. He made a lot of money, but he didn’t make the kind of money some of these other guys made. This is, as far as Bisping’s legacy goes, beating Georges St. Pierre is very big for him, so Bisping is hungry.”
White also gave an update on lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who was last seen setting pay-per-view records in a boxing ring fighting Floyd Mayweather.
“Conor still wants to get a fight in before the end of the year so we will see what happens,” White said.
With so many options for McGregor now that he’s crossed over sports, White confirmed that McGregor’s next fight will be a unification bout against interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson.
“100 percent. That’s the fight that has to happen, (McGregor) and Ferguson at 155 pounds,” White said. “It’s going to be non-stop action, it’s a great fight. It’s a great fight.”
After McGregor stood toe-to-toe with Mayweather, many have wondered what McGregor’s next move will be. But even after a successful fight and promotion, White confirmed that the 29-year-old Irish champ is focused on his return to the UFC.
“He’s ready to get back into mixed martial arts,” White said, before hedging his bet. “And no, I would never want to do that (boxing) again. But never say never.”
You can listen to The Jim Rome Podcast on iTunes, or wherever podcasts can be found.