Dana White says Conor McGregor USADA situation in Jeff Novitzky’s hands: ‘I don’t give a sh*t about any of that stuff anymore’
LONDON – Dana White met with the media following Saturday’s UFC 286 and gave his thoughts on a number of topics.
After welterweight champion Leon Edwards defended his title in a trilogy rematch against former champ Kamaru Usman, the UFC president talked about that result, what’s next for the champ, and other fallout from UFC 286 at The O2 in London.
At the post-fight news conference, White also talked about Conor McGregor’s situation with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the U.K. MMA fans, future UFC destinations like Africa, his Power Slap side hustle, and more.
Check out White’s thoughts on those topics and more below.
On UFC 286 main event scoring
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3
It was a tough fight to score. I didn’t really (know). I was literally standing in there not knowing what was going to happen, and then (Bruce) Buffer came over and whispered in my ear.
On Leon Edwards' point deduction
Herb Dean and Leon Edwards
That was a blatant fence grab that stopped the takedown. You’ve got to (take a point away), especially when you look at stylistically how that fight goes. Usman’s thing is to wrestle and take him down, and obviously Leon wants to stand up. He had to take that (point away).
On Kamaru Usman not wrestling in main event
Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards
I expected a lot more wrestling out of Usman than I saw. And when he did try to wrestle, obviously Leon did a great job, especially if you compare it to the first fight. … Do I think Usman was (gun shy)? Yeah. That’s what I thought was going to happen going in. I thought he was going to be very gun shy. I thought he was going to be holding onto those legs all night. He did the exact opposite. He only shot a few times and he was willing to mix it up in there.
On Teddy Atlas' theory that champs improve by 30 percent instantly
I believe it. I think that there’s absolutely a different level of confidence that you have when you win that type of a fight. I can’t even imagine the amount of nerves guys have going into that first fight that you might not feel the second time, and knowing that you have the power and the ability to knock the same opponent out. Plus, you’ve got to look at Usman, who might be a little more gun shy. If you think of all the wars that he’s been in with all the great fighters that he’s beat, this is the guy who knocks him out.
On Colby Covington for Edwards' next title defense
Colby Covington vs. Leon Edwards
I don’t know when we’ll do it, but that’s the fight. That makes sense. Colby came here and cut weight and did everything to be here for this fight. He deserves the fight – not to mention the fact that he’s the second or third best guy in the world. It is Leon vs. Colby next.
On Belal Muhammad's place in the welterweight title picture
Kazakh mixed martial artist Shavkat Rakhmonov reacts after defeating USA’s mixed martial artist Geoff Neal during their Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 285 mixed martial arts event at T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 4, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
We’re working on Shavkat Rakhmonov (for Muhammad). We’re working on it.
On lightweight champ Islam Makhachev's request to fight Edwards in Abu Dhabi
Feb 12, 2023; Perth, WA, AUSTRALIA; Islam Makhachev (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Alexander Volkanovski (not pictured) for the lightweight championship during UFC 284 at RAC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasmin Frank-USA TODAY Sports
Colby’s next (for Edwards). Yeah, Colby’s next. We’re going back to Abu Dhabi Oct. 21, but it definitely won’t be (Edwards vs. Makhachev).
On a return to London while Edwards is champ
If (Tom) Aspinall is ready and we come back to England, we would obviously use him. But we don’t have a date for England. I mean, we didn’t even know what the hell was going to happen tonight. But it looks like England has a world champion now, and we’re going to be doing title fights here more, so there’s probably going to be some of the biggest nights in U.K. MMA history on the horizon – bigger than this tonight.
And if you look at that division, there’s a lot of great fights to make. Now, if Leon’s a champ and, for people who’ve never been here, I say it all the time about the fans and the energy and things here, but also every time you do a fight, it’s about a destination. This city has the best hotels, great restaurants – I mean, the shopping is unbelievable. This is such a great place to come if you’ve never been, not to mention the history and all the other things that are here. It’s just a great place. I’m so pumped that we’re actually able to do big title fights here with one of your own. This is a great destination for people who’ve never been here before. It’s an incredible city with more than just coming for the fight. There’s so much you can do here in London. You could fly in with your family or however you want to do it and have an incredible weekend here. It’s one of the greatest cities on earth. The weather isn’t always great, but you can tough through it. But this city’s amazing, and to have a champion here now is fun. We’ll do some big fights here.
If the champ fights three times a year, and we do them over here in London, it makes sense. Realistically, when you think about it, we’d want to come over here, especially since COVID and everything that’s been going on, you want to come over here as much as we possibly can. And you’ve got to imagine if we did a fight in Vegas with (a U.K. champ), give a lot of people from England an opportunity to go over to Vegas, too.
On the constant improvement of the U.K. MMA scene
Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) bleeds from a cut during his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) in the UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
I think the first time we came over here was like 2000, and it was like one jiu-jitsu school over here. But if you look at the amount of talent since then that’s come out of this region, not just this country, it just keeps getting better and better and bigger and bigger. When we came over here to Manchester with Michael Bisping, that really started the whole explosion over here. And now that you have a champ who has defended the title. We’re bringing big title fights over here now. It’s a huge game changer for the U.K.
On the U.K. fans at The O2
Mar 19, 2022; London, UK; Dana White greets fans before the fight between Jai Herbert (red gloves) and Ilia Topuria (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
It’s always awesome. I don’t know if I could compare it. This place is always, from the first fight of the night to the main event – it could be one of your own fighting for the title or two guys from anywhere – this place is always fired up, excited. I love the chanting. It seems like it’s almost scripted, how everybody just picks up the same thing and starts chanting it half the time. I don’t even know what the hell they’re saying, but they do. It’s pretty fascinating. It’s a fun place to come watch a fight, and I know a lot of people personally who flew out here for this fight to check it out.
On future destinations
People are always asking me, ‘Why don’t you go here? Why don’t you go there?’ The answer is yes – (we want to go everywhere). I don’t know. We just have to figure it out. It’s just something that we have to get in the office and look at and figure out. I mean, the O2 has been great to us, and London is a great city to hold fights. We’ll see. But the answer is yes, and even if we didn’t take Edwards somewhere else, we’d do Fight Nights all across (Europe). But we’re going to start traveling again here – get out of the (UFC) Apex. The Apex is getting a little too cozy. We’ve got to start getting out there and traveling again.
On the UFC's remaining 2023 schedule
We have fights booked up until June right now. You know how the war room is laid out – I’m sure you’ve seen it online or whatever. But it’ll tell the date and then where it is, and when it tells where it is, we have like five or six locations written on all the boards. So we’re still kind of working on where we’re going. But like I’ve said many times, we’re ready to travel and we’re going to go to places that are easy to do business (with) and cities that are destinations. Last year, every event was a sellout. We sold out every event last year, and with the exception of Brazil this year, every gate has been like a Madison Square Garden-type. The fact that we’re getting back out there and hitting these locations that we haven’t been to in a long time, it’s probably going to take us three years to hit all the places that we’ve been in the past. It’s not anything that’s going to really happen this year. We’ll hit all these big destinations, but over the next three years we will (get back out) unless the world loses its mind again or something.
On UFC in Africa
It’s great if we have African champions, but that’s not the reason we would go there, anyway. It will happen before I retire. Two things will happen before I retire: We will do a fight, at least one fight, in Africa, and there will be a (Performance Institute) in Africa before I’m done here. Spain and Italy we’d love to go to, too, just like we would love to do a fight in Africa.
On Paddy Pimblett's return
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 10: Paddy Pimblett of England stands in his corner as he’s introduced prior to facing Jared Gordon in a lightweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Possibly in October. We have a lot of guys that, depending on where you take them, are exciting and fun. But Paddy’s awesome and always fun to have on a card.
On a new contract for Joanne Wood
Mar 18, 2023; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Joanne Wood (red gloves) fights Luana Carolina (blue gloves) during UFC 286 at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
We love her. I’m sure we’ll get something done with her. She’s awesome to have around and the answer’s yes … hell yes. We’ll get a new deal done with JoJo, yeah.
On Power Slap League
The numbers were – it’s baffling. It’s funny because it’s unbelievable and baffling. But at the same time, when I looked at this thing back in ’18 and it had 350 million views coming out of – with the production value that it had and everything else – my big question was what would happen if it was done (right)? And we found out. Then tonight, Frank, who is the president of the company, hit me up and said that he’s been fielding international calls over the last several days. A lot of people were sh*tting on this thing. Watch what we do with this thing in the next two years. The answer to your question is yes, (you’ll see Power Slap in the U.K.). What we’re doing now is we’re going out and getting this thing sanctioned everywhere. And I’m going to tell you right now – you can ask anybody if you know anybody personally that was at the live event that night – it was f*cking unbelievable. It was so much fun. It was crazy. I’m excited about this thing. I haven’t this fired up since like 2008 or something. So yes, I’m excited about it.
On Conor McGregor's return
Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor attends the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 285 mixed martial arts event at T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 4, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
He’s ready to go. He could probably fight tomorrow if he wanted to, Conor. Conor coming back and coaching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ was like a (big step) toward coming back. He was telling me Monday that it felt good to be there again – felt good to be in the gym with other guys, felt good to train, felt good to be in Vegas – all that stuff. I don’t know if Conor’s ready to come back and fight tomorrow, but ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ was a big step in that direction and getting him back and getting him mentally and probably emotionally ready to start training and get back to.
On McGregor's return location
When Conor was the champ and the double champ, I wanted to do Croke Park (in Dublin) so bad. But logistically, it just never worked out for us. We couldn’t get them to work with us. They close the subways down at a certain time that wouldn’t have worked. Obviously, we’d love to come back to Dublin, too, but I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. I don’t even know when he’s going to fight yet. And his next fight definitely wouldn’t be in Ireland.
On McGregor's USADA situation
Um, have you ever heard of (UFC senior VP of athlete health and performance) Jeff Novitzky? Ask him these questions. I don’t give a sh*t about any of that stuff anymore. That’s his problem. I don’t get involved in the drug testing situation whatsoever. I know nothing about it, and I don’t want to know nothing about it. I leave it to the expert. He’s the expert in this thing, and you guys call him and interview him anytime about it.