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19th Jul 2018

UFC star’s use of Conor McGregor negotiation tactic failed to work on Dana White

"He was pretty pissed off."

Ben Kiely

When Conor McGregor was offered a short-notice interim title fight by Dana White, he didn’t hesitate to accept.

That being said, Conor McGregor had two weeks to prepare for Chad Mendes at UFC 189. Brian Ortega would have only had two days to prepare for a replacement opponent if he accepted Dana White’s proposal at UFC 226.

Ortega was set to fight Max Holloway for the featherweight strap in the co-main event. Unfortunately, ‘Blessed’ was rushed to the hospital after media day with ‘concussion-like’ symptoms and the fight was scrapped. White then offered ‘T-City’ an interim title fight on a couple of days’ notice, but this was swiftly rejected.

White proceeded to put Ortega’s manager on the spot during the UFC 226 post-fight press conference. He told Ed Soares, who was sitting in the front row, ‘Bet you wish you didn’t come to this press conference’ before asking him if it was ‘an absolute no’. Soares stood his ground and confirmed that Ortega definitely wasn’t fighting on the card.

“Like Conor says”

Ortega explained on Brendan Schaub’s Below the Belt podcast that he had a meeting with the UFC president directly after that press conference. Soon-to-be double champion Daniel Cormier’s hard fall onstage had put White in a bad mood for the meeting. At the time, nobody knew how hurt DC was.

“He was pretty pissed off. He was just in a bad mood. Fight fell through, I didn’t realise DC (Daniel Cormier) just fell backstage and then he walks into this meeting and I’m over here telling him I’m not going to fight. I’m holding my ground.”

No fight meant no pay for ‘T-City.’ So he pleaded his case to receive some sort of compensation for doing everything else bar take a short notice fight.

“I’m just like, ‘Listen, with all due respect, I stepped in and fought (Thiago) Tavares on two weeks’ notice. I stepped in and fought Frankie (Edgar) on three weeks’ notice and I stepped in to try to fight Khabib (Nurmagomedov on six weeks’ notice.’ I go, ‘It’s not a scared issue, I’m not down for the company. I finished everyone you told me to. Every single person you put in front of me, I took their heads off and like Conor (McGregor) says, I put them on your fucking doorstep and that earned me a title shot. Now that I’m here, why go anywhere else besides forward?'”

Promotor hat

Unsurprisingly, White wasn’t having any of this. Although he’s not contractually obliged to receive payment, Ortega felt he was deserving of something. Especially considering it states in UFC contracts that athletes are obliged to do ‘reasonable promotion’ for the fight. Ortega certainly held up his end of that particular part of the bargain.

“Well, he put on his promotor hat. He’s like, ‘Listen man.just fight. Blah blah blah. We’ll work something out.’ I was just like, ‘We don’t need to work anything out. I want Max Holloway or i want the belt.’ (He replied) ‘I’ll see if we can do an interim fight.’ I was like, ‘I’m not fighting for a fake belt. It looks cool, but it’s not the real belt. There’s no real money involved in that one, there’s nothing that really goes on in terms of being a champion. You just get something that says, ‘I’m first place’. It just says. ‘I’m next in line for the belt.’ I’m already here, right? You just want to put something shiny around my waist to make me feel better. I’m not going to do it.'”

“I told him, ‘Listen, I showed up, I’ve been cutting weight, I’ve done all the media, even the media in Spanish.’ I had to do double the work and do that in Spanish. So every fighter left and I’m still stuck there doing everything in Spanish.”

No dice

When Ortega asked White if the promotion he did to build up the fight that fell through was worth something, he was issued a very callous response.

“I’m like, ‘I’ve been showing you I’m a company man, I’m down to promote the hell out of this fight, I’m taking extra hours while I’m hungry, starving to keep doing media. And I’ve been cutting weight, did the open workouts, ready for media – I showed up. Don’t you think that’s worth something? That’s worth something. Even if I didn’t take the fight, still I did my end of the deal.'”

“Then they came back and were like, ‘Well, our deal is to find you a fight and we found you a fight and you turned it down.’ I was like, ‘Not really. Unless it’s for a title, I’m not going for it.’ He goes, ‘Well, I did my job, you didn’t do yours.'”

So how about that fighters’ union then?

Oh, wait!