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28th Jul 2018

Final hurdle to Conor McGregor’s UFC return has been removed

Patrick McCarry

“Sooner than later”

That is the hope of UFC president Dana White about a lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and the man he replaced as undisputed champ, Conor McGregor.

Back in April, not long after McGregor and Cian Cowley were involved in attacking a bus in the Barclays Center loading bay, White had that mix of shock, anger and disappointment. ‘The Notorious’ had flung a hand-cart at the window of a bus carrying UFC fighters and employees and helped create a scene of total panic.

Many of the MMA reporters were still working away as UFC 223 media day had just wrapped. White entered one of their work stations to provide an update and his comments on McGregor were stinging.

“It’s the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company.”

White was asked on the night, and on subsequent nights, what McGregor’s actions meant for his future with the promotion. The president sounded doubtful as he himself pondered whether the Dubliner was just not worth the hassle any more.

Sanctions were coming, White assured us, just as soon as McGregor had settled his legal issues.

Those issues, from a criminal aspect at least, were settled in Brooklyn’s King’s County Court-house this past Thursday. McGregor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was forced to pay for damages. He was also ordered to five days of community service and 1-3 days of anger management classes. The experts, one presumes, will decide after one day of classes if the UFC star needs the further two.

There may yet be separate, civil cases following on from that incident in Brooklyn but, for now, the focus is back on McGregor the mixed martial artist and who he will fight next.

According to White, it will be McGregor versus Nurmagomedov and the fight will take place before 2018 is out. “The fight everybody wants to see is Conor and Khabib,” White said at UFC Calgary. “That’s the fight.”

Asked about McGregor receiving an additional punishment from the UFC, White’s stance has softened a great deal since April.

“Conor has faced a lot of repercussions. Conor has lost a lot of money and a lot of time.

“Conor and I are good. We’re good.”

Had the UFC imposed their own ban, it could have further delayed any McGregor comeback but that hurdle has been removed.

Asked about the former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson mending quickly after knee surgery, White said he ‘would love’ to put El Cucuy on the same card as ‘Khabib and Conor’.

The UFC’s biggest cash-cow is set to receive no separate sanctions for his actions in the Barclays Center loading bay, despite all the hardship [three cancelled fights, two fighters and one UFC employee injured, Rose Namajunas traumatised by events] it caused.

A worrying precedent has been set.