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03rd Feb 2017

Conor McGregor’s invite to meet the UFC owners may not be what he was expecting

Lost in the crowd

Patrick McCarry

“They’ve got to come talk to me now because no one’s came and talked to me since the sale has happened.”

Conor McGregor was not in the mood to be mugged off after UFC 205.

He had just dismantled lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to take his belt and become the promotion’s first ever consecutive title holder. It had been four months since Zuffa – using him prominently in their sales pitch – had parted ways with the UFC, to WME-IMG, for a cool $4.2bn.

He had met the new boss Ari Emanuel on one occasion before that Madison Square Garden fight. It had been a brief conversation but, according to McGregot, Emanuel told him they would do great things together.

McGregor knocked Alvarez on his ass and sent out another message as he strutted around the Octagon.

He followed that up with some forthright comments in the press conference that followed:

“I’ve earned something. Who owns the company now? People have shares. Celebrities. Conan O’Brien owns the UFC now. Where’s my share? Where’s my equity?

“If I’m the one that’s bringing this, they’ve got to come talk to me now. I’ve got both belts, family on the way. If you want me to stick around, if you want me to keep doing [this], let’s talk.”

During last Saturday’s ‘An Experience With… ‘ event, McGregor told Ariel Helwani that the sit-down with the new UFC brass had yet to happen. He came across as committed to the UFC but there was an undertow of frustration with the stalemate.

All that is set to change. As reported by Yahoo Sports, the UFC is inviting over 500 fighters from its roster to Las Vegas, in May, for an ‘Athlete’s Retreat’.

Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, the promotion’s chief executives, will introduce fighters to a host of their other clients from the sporting and entertainment worlds. These personalities will either provide presentations to fighters or be available to answer questions on a myriad of topics.

Former heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, the UFC’s vice president for athlete development, will also lead tour’s of the company’s soon to open Performance Institute.

Whether or not McGregor would be content with waiting until May to meet Emanuel and Whitesell – and do so while they are getting to know 500+ other fighters – remains to be seen.