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Dana White promises to change the way he promotes Conor McGregor

Dana White promises to change the way he promotes Conor McGregor

Dana White promises to change the way he promotes Conor McGregor

An injury forced Conor McGregor to pull out of his main event with Michael Chandler at UFC 303 on June 29.

Beyond the obvious impact on the card, International Fight Week and the event’s appeal, McGregor’s ouster will affect how UFC CEO Dana White promotes his top star.

White spoke with Sports Business Journal this week about McGregor and several other topics, and shared his approach to promoting the MMA icon going forward.

Dana White’s new strategy for promoting McGregor

White was asked if he was disappointed that McGregor was forced out of UFC 303 and said, “That’s the thing, man. This is the way it goes. And from here on out, I won’t talk about it until he’s healed and he’s right. Then we’ll look at the landscape and see what we can figure out.”

This could mean McGregor will be thrown onto a card with relatively late public notice. However, he and his opponent will be notified to allow practice and preparation.

White and the UFC will likely want McGregor, his opponent and the camp to agree not to discuss the upcoming fight until a certain date so they can do their best to protect against leaks.

I’m not sure how well that will work, but due to McGregor’s volatile availability, it’s an understandable adjustment to promoting his events.

McGregor has not fought since July 2021 when he suffered a broken ankle in his third fight with Dustin Poirier.

Between that point, there were plenty of rumors and posts about potential fights with Chandler and others, but the UFC 303 main event was the only one that ended up getting an official date.

By restructuring several events, the UFC has bounced back well from McGregor’s ouster and other card changes. The changes now have Alex Pereira defending his light heavyweight title against Jiri Prochazka in a rematch as the main event of UFC 303. Diego Lopes will now face Brian Ortega in the co-main event as Jamahal Hill is ruled out due to knee injuries.

Hill was supposed to face Carlos Ulberg, but now Ulberg will fight veteran contender Anthony Smith. The UFC 303 main card still features Michael Venom Page vs. Ian Machado Garry.

Impact on UFC marketing and promotion

Adding an upcoming McGregor fight to the top of a card could have two effects. The UFC could add a McGregor fight to a solid card that seemingly lacks the kind of main event that encourages a wave of fans to buy.

Any fight with McGregor is almost certain to turn that book upside down.

The UFC could also add a McGregor fight to an already stacked card, pushing things to the extreme.

Because of the hoops that must be jumped through to secure any McGregor fight, it would be understandable if the UFC approached his next bout as if it were his last.

You never know with McGregor, but when he’s available, he still moves the needle like no one else in the sport.

With that approach, keep an eye out for the upcoming Las Vegas Sphere event in September. It seems like that would give McGregor more than enough time to heal from his injury and set the stage for him which aligns with the massive nature of a McGregor-headlined card.

There are still some potential risks to using McGregor on any card, but as White once said when asked why he puts up with the star’s tragedy, “it’s worth it.”