Despite having a fling with boxing and not competing in the octagon in two years, Conor McGregor was welcomed back with open arms by Dana White and UFC.
White announced Thursday that McGregor signed a new six-fight deal with UFC, and only UFC, as the deal does not allow McGregor to go back to boxing.
This comes on the heels of UFC agreeing to a five-year deal with ESPN that will bring the promotion’s entire rights package to ESPN in 2019.
White knows that he needs a star to be front and center when UFC heads to ESPN, and he has no problem putting all of his eggs in McGregor’s basket.
“It’s not hard to do a deal with Conor McGregor because we know what he’s worth,” White told ESPN.
McGregor’s new contract includes his whiskey brand, Proper No. Twelve, as a sponsor for every UFC event in which he fights.
When asked by ESPN’s Darren Rovell if the Proper No. Twelve logo is an official UFC sponsor and not just some gimmick, McGregor told Rovell where he can expect to see the logo.
— brian axelrod (@brianaxelrod) September 21, 2018
“It’s on the canvas!” he said. “It’s on the canvas! Like (Khabib Nurmagomedov’s) blood will be on the canvas Oct. 6.”
White, McGregor and Nurmagomedov were on hand for the UFC 229 press event ahead of their match in two weeks, but there were no fans in attendance, which had McGregor perplexed when he arrived 40 minutes late.
“Where’s the f—ing fans at? That’s who we fight for. That’s who pays the bills. That’s who deserves this show,” McGregor said.
The fans certainly will be in attendance in McGregor’s return to the octagon as White said pay-per-view buys are on pace to set a UFC record.
The current record is 1.6 million buys for UFC 202, which featured McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz. McGregor defeated Diaz to avenge the only loss of his UFC career.
White said UFC 229 is trending toward 2.5 million buys, and for comparison, the first fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin had 1.3 million buys.
White is banking on McGregor to be the face of the company at a time when UFC desperately needs a face.
Other stars, such as Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey, have traded in the octagon for a wrestling ring, while Jon Jones can’t get out of his own way.
McGregor has had issues of his own, and some even think he was drunk at the UFC 229 press event. But he’s a cash cow, and banking on him is a risk that White seems willing to take.
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