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  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228

    ISSN10839593 April 25, 2016

    UFC ON FOX POLL RESULTS

    Thumbs up 50 (57.5%)

    Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

    In the middle 37 (42.5%)

    BEST MATCH POLL

    Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres 51

    Raquel Pennington vs. Bethe Correia 23

    WORST MATCH POLL

    Cezar Ferreira vs. Owale Bamgbose 16

    Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 4/19.

    Ive decided to retire young.

    Thanks for the cheese

    Catch yas later.

    Conor McGregor on Twitter on 4/19

    In just three sentences, the entire world of MMA may have changed.

  • UFC was planning its biggest set of shows in history, built around a Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fight, which was expected to be the biggest money event in company history.

    Then McGregor sent out a tweet, which led to hysteria and speculation on what exactly it meant. And at this point, nobody still really knows, deep down, what it meant.

    After hours of silence from UFC, Dana White was on ESPN SportsCenter with an announcement, stating that McGregor had been pulled off the UFC 200 card because he had refused to break training in Iceland to come to Las Vegas for a press conference.

    Whites words only invited more speculation, claiming, Obviously we still have a good relationship with Conor. I respect Conor as a fighter and I like him as a person. But you cant decide not to show up to these things. You have to do it.

    White, when asked if McGregor had retired, said only McGregor knows for sure.

    The next day, White got into more detail on the Colin Cowherd show with an explanation that seemed to make little sense as the real reason McGregor isnt fighting on UFC 200.

    White said that McGregor decided that he didnt want to come to the U.S. this week where UFC had planned for him to shoot a television commercial for UFC 200, as well as do press conferences in Las Vegas, Stockton and New York.

    He said, `I dont want to do it. I dont want to come. I said, `You have to come. You cant not show up to promote your fight. You cant do it. Thats where we ended up.

    White brought up UFC 137, when he pulled Nick Diaz from a title fight with Georges St-Pierre after Diaz had missed two press dates. The irony is that Diaz ended up on the card anyway, just against B.J. Penn.

    White also claimed to still have a great relationship with McGregor, and insisted that none of this is about money, and said that if McGregor was to call him up, the UFC 200 main event could still happen.

    The idea that everything is smooth as silk between the sides is almost laughable when you consider UFC would be down, very conservatively, about $40 million if McGregor isnt fighting and McGregor would also be out millions of dollars for what would likely be his biggest payday ever.

    No, our relationship isnt damaged at all, said White.

    He was careful to not say anything negative about McGregor, which is not Whites usual M.O. The closest thing he came to saying is that, Its not like Im asking Conor to do something none of the other fighters are doing and its not like its three weeks before the fight. Its three

  • months (actually 11 weeks). Conor, for whatever reason, he freaked out on this. Hes a reasonable guy. Hes a smart guy. This is weird.

    The last sentence is the only one that one could take at face value.

    Its not a money issue, thats false, said White about a situation that it would be almost impossible to believe is not a money issue. Thats the problem with the Internet. Never ever was this about money. Conor makes a lot of money and is very happy with the money he makes. Conor has never come back after agreeing on a deal and asked for more money.

    White said that he didnt believe McGregor was retiring, and he did believe McGregor would fight again with the UFC within the next year. But he said that McGregor does need to clear up what hes saying, because if he is publicly saying that he is retired, then the 7/9 fight with Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 would go from being for the interim featherweight title to being for the featherweight title, and McGregor would be stripped as champion.

    Even though both sides have always claimed a great relationship, there were reports from people close to McGregor for some time who noted his long-term goal was to be a co-promoter on shows. It was pointed out that on 4/9, Manny Pacquiao earned a guaranteed $20 million for his main event with Timothy Bradley which is currently estimated at doing between 400,000 and 500,000 buys, a fraction of what UFC 200 will bring (although promoter Bob Arum went into the fight expecting 700,000 to 800,000, based on the first fight between the two doing the former and the second fight doing the latter). There are many business model differences that make this kind of a comparison misleading, but in the end, a top level boxer does earn a greater percentage of the revenue that they bring to an event than an MMA fighter.

    It never got combative, White said. I was talking to his manager. They are asking, `Lets move all this to May. I said, `You cant move it. All this stuff is in motion.

    The problem is you have to be here to promote the fight and you have to shoot this commercial, he said. Were spending $10 million in promotions and all that money is in motion. You cant not do this no matter how big you are.

    McGregor, 27, more than anyone, knows the value of being at press conferences and promoting fights. But it goes without saying nobody accepted either version as anything close to what the real story is. Whatever happened, his refusal to come to Las Vegas for a press conference may have bene the end result, but couldnt possibly be the main issue in the complete story.

    The key is that things are clearly contentious or this would have been settled before it went public, but both sides have been very careful not to make it personal. Both sides have also completely avoided whatever the real story, whether its McGregor wanting to co-promote, or wanting a higher flat free purse (hes made it clear he doesnt get his money on pay-per-view points but gets one massive check shortly after the fight) than they were willing to guarantee.

  • Another key to the story is that when White went on SportsCenter, he didnt announce a new fight. The UFCs m.o. in a situation like this when theres bad news, is to temper the bad news with the announcement of the new fight. The fact they didnt announce either Robbie Lawler or Rafael dos Anjos against Diaz in a title fight, a deal they could have easily put together, would indicate either they were either strongly leaving the door open to be settled, or working on something bigger that they couldnt pull the trigger on the deal at short notice.

    The only thing bigger that would come to mind would involve Georges St-Pierre.

    The key being whatever the real story, its something neither side wanted to get out, nor that it was so heated personally that they ran down the other side.

    White said that they would be bringing Diaz to Las Vegas and talk to him about a new main event for the show. From the outside, the logical move, barring St-Pierre fighting, would be Diaz getting a shot at either lightweight champion dos Anjos or welterweight champion Lawler.

    The Lawler fight would be bigger. Diaz, who right now would be the A side of either title match and is probably one of the companys biggest stars coming off his win at UFC 196, would not figure to have a great chance with either. But hed probably have a better chance with the smaller dos Anjos. But dos Anjos also may take the fight to the ground and out power Diaz like he did in their December 13, 2014 fight, a very clear-cut decision won by dos Anjos. With Lawler, it would be a stand-up war. Perhaps Diazs speed and conditioning, plus his ability to take a shot, could match up with Lawlers punching power. But Lawlers conditioning is also good, and hes the bigger man and much harder puncher.

    Picking Lawler would enable UFC to keep the dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez title fight announced for 7/7. But it would also leave the cupboard bare for August, when Lawler was scheduled to headline.

    But St-Pierre is the lone prospective opponent that would enable UFC to do even close to the big numbers expected out of the show, particularly if that $10 million promotional budget is accurate.

    St-Pierre in the slot would still allow them to keep the dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez fight on 7/7 and leave Lawler to headline in August.

    St-Pierres public statement on the MMA Hour on 4/18 was that he was going to do a camp and see how his body reacts, and then make the call if hes going to fight again or retire. He seemed to be more open to fighting in interviews of late, and those close to him have been even stronger that hed be coming back. But St-Pierre made it clear that he would have to renegotiate his current contract, because he made a lot of money on sponsorships when he was a fighter, and with the UFC Reebok deal, he couldnt make that kind of money. So he was indicating he felt it was only fair for UFC to increase his purse to make up for his lost revenue.

  • Besides whatever fight Diaz does, UFC 200 will also have Aldo vs. Edgar plus Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes for the womens bantamweight title.

    On the surface, Id peg that lineup with dos Anjos in the match at 500,000 to 600,000 buys, but the idea of it being UFC 200 could knock it up slightly. For Lawler, Id peg it a little higher. For St-Pierre, because of UFC 200 and the loaded undercard, and St-Pierre not having fought for three years, it could do 1,000,000.

    If the McGregor vs. Diazs first fight did 1,500,000 buys as UFC has claimed, a rematc

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