Conor McGregor: UFC star’s career timeline
Dana White’s relationship with Conor McGregor has not always been smooth sailing but there was an excitement in the UFC boss’ voice when he warned Dustin Poirier ‘the real Conor McGregor’ is back and told fans they can’t afford to miss the Irishman’s return to the Octagon. It will have been a year since McGregor last fought by the time he takes on Poirier at UFC 257 on January 23.
The emphatic knockout of Donald Cerrone inside the opening minute of their welterweight contest last January is the only time McGregor has fought in the last 15 months.
But White insists the 32-year-old is still at the top of his sport heading into the bout in Abu Dhabi, as McGregor moves back down to lightweight.
White told ESPN: “I am always about the best fighting the absolute best and anybody who doesn’t think Conor McGregor is still one of the best fighters in the world, go back and look at what he did to ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone last year. He is one of the best.
“This is a real fight and he took this fight seriously.
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“There is nothing more exciting or more fun than a motivated Conor McGregor when his head is in the right place.
“You can tell when he is and you can tell when he isn’t. And you can tell right now, he is in.”
McGregor, who has a 22-4-0 record, is one of the most talked about sportsmen on the planet, with defeats in recent years to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz doing little to diminish his pulling power.
The bout with Poirier will be the second time the two men have faced off in the Octagon, after McGregor knocked out the American in the first round of their September 2014 contest.
White insists both men are now different fighters though and warned Poirier he is taking on a very focused – and dangerous – McGregor on Fight Island.
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White said: “I’ve seen the social media [where McGregor looks in good shape] but through my conversations with Conor, I know when the real Conor is here and the other Conor is here and believe me when I tell you that the real Conor is here.
“I will tell you right now – and this is one of the things that I have always given this kid so much credit for – if something happens to Dustin Poirier, he is the Conor McGregor right now that doesn’t give a s*** who we put in the fight on that night. He is that guy right now.
“There isn’t going to be any ‘what about this guy or that guy?’ He would be like ‘who is ready, who have you got? I’m going to the gym so just tell me who is showing up on Saturday.’
“He is that guy right now. That Conor McGregor is back.
“You said it: Conor goes like this (gesticulating up and down with his hand). Well Conor is right here right now (holding his hand at the highest point).”
He added: “That is the guy we are dealing right now on every level. He is hitting me up and asking me questions about the layout of the arena, the walk in and all these types of things he is interested in knowing about right now. He is all in on this thing.
“If you are a Conor McGregor fan and you love everything about Conor McGregor fights, then don’t miss this one.”
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