UFC president Dana White talks Conor McGregor, lightweight title picture, boxing in exclusive interview

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
UFC president Dana White discussed the lightweight title picture, the upcoming heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, and his interest in promoting boxing in his wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Sports. (Getty Images)

UFC president Dana White is in Thailand on a boat for a brief vacation, but he carved out time to speak with Yahoo Sports about a variety of MMA topics, as well as his interest in promoting boxing.

White did not speak to the media following the conclusion of UFC 219 on Saturday in Las Vegas and he spent a good deal of time in the interview breaking down the performances of the fighters in the co-main event.

It became obvious talking to White that he was so impressed with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s victory over Edson Barboza that it changed how he views the lightweight title picture. Before Nurmagomedov-Barboza, White had said champion Conor McGregor’s next fight would be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Now, he left some wiggle room after noting that “Khabib looks like an unbelievable force and is a star in the making.”

He seems to be leaning toward the long-awaited Nurmagomedov-Ferguson bout for the interim championship and then having the winner fight McGregor for the undisputed title. But he made it clear that McGregor will at some point have to defend the belt.

“As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor for the title,” White said. “Of, if Conor wants to sit out until next fall, then we’d have to make Khabib versus Tony for the title, not the interim title.”

White also said he plans to pit women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes next.

Here are highlights of the rest of what White had to say (beware that there is some adult, NSFW language in the interview):

0:30 — White talks about seeing ex-UFC fighter Mike Swick in Phuket, Thailand, and raves about Swick’s new gym there.

1:55 — White jokes about his insane travel schedule in the coming days.

3:19 — He discusses meeting a young Thai girl whose life he helped save with a financial donation and how that impacted him.

“It’s one of the greatest things ever in my life,” he said of helping save the young girl.

6:00 — White breaks down Nurmagomedov’s performance.

8:42 — White explains McGregor’s obligations as champion and how he plans to deal with the lightweight title.

10:51 — White gets more specific on his title plans for the lightweights.

11:35 — White says money won’t be a factor from the UFC’s standpoint in making another McGregor fight. He says the company will be able to pay McGregor fairly.

13:35 — White breaks down the Cyborg-Holm fight.

17:20 — White says women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will get the next shot at the featherweight belt.

19:12 — White raves about the upcoming heavyweight title match between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. He said he’s watched the promo for that bout “about 650 times.”

23:45 — White goes in-depth on his interest in promoting boxing, but says he’ll never work with Showtime again.

35:18 — I ask White if he’d be involved if a boxing heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua takes place in 2018. His answer might surprise.