White puts McGregor in same bracket as Muhammad Ali and talks up Khabib rematch

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

UFC president Dana White has compared Conor McGregor to boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard after the Irishman made his return to the Octagon.

McGregor needed just 40 seconds to defeat Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday, as the 31-year-old marked his comeback after 15 months away from the Octagon in style.

And White believes McGregor has now reached the same level as stardom as icons such as Ali, Tyson and Leonard.

"[Conor] is such a huge superstar. I put him up there with Tyson, Leonard," White told a media conference.

"All of them," he added when asked if McGregor could be compared to Ali, considered to be the greatest fighter in boxing history.

"He's got the biggest pay-per-view in pay-per-view history. How many of the top 10 does he have? I don't even know. He's one of the biggest stars out there.

"A lot of the times coming in his career he's been doubted for his talent and he proves everybody wrong every time."

White was also asked how much McGregor was worth to UFC, with a figure of $2billion suggested by a reporter.

"Two billion dollars? Sounds like a good number, I'll take that," White joked. "I don't know what he's worth to the company but it's big.

"You couldn't go anywhere without seeing this fight and knowing that this fight was on. All the people came out and watched the fight.

"This is one of those fights that people who normally don't buy [do] buy, right? So, the number is always massive.

"Then Conor comes out and does what he did tonight. You can't put a number on that. It's massive and it's global. The whole world was watching tonight."

McGregor's previous fight came in October 2018, when he was defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In his own post-fight news conference, McGregor outlined his intention to go up against the Russian once more, and White is eager to make a rematch happen.

"We're at a place right now where Conor was saying that, going into the Khabib fight, he had lots of personal stuff," said White.

"Some stuff [was] self-inflicted. He had injuries. He had all these things going on. He has been obsessed with getting that rematch because he knows that he wasn't 100 per cent right.

"We're looking at like Ali-Foreman, Ali-Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It's the fight you make, it's the fight that makes sense. It's for the 155-pound title.

"It's huge for Khabib’s legacy, too. If he beat McGregor, then he beats Tony Ferguson, then he beats McGregor again, I mean, this is how this kid, when he retires, he's 30-something and, oh, he's beaten all of the best."

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    The 'Gypsy King' became a two-time heavyweight champion of the world with a devastating seventh-round TKO of Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas to prise away the American's WBC belt.

    It marks the culmination of a sensational climb back to the top for Fury, who has spoken openly about his battles with depression and cocaine use after dethroning Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, WBO and IBF belts in November 2015.

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    "It couldn't happen to a better man. I wanted to see him do it. Not being able to be there and not working, I get very anxious. Tyson made it a lot easier on me by fighting the way he did."

    Fury's decision to cease work with Davison, who had helped the Briton shed weight and return to elite boxing following the tumultuous times that followed his first title triumph, just two months prior to the fight caught many off guard.

    One of the most surprising aspects of the bout with Wilder – which took place 14 months on from a contentious Los Angeles draw in their first fight – was the aggressive approach taken by Fury, who delivered on his promise of a knockout having floored his opponent in the third and fifth rounds.

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    October 2016 – Fury vacates belts after troubled year

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    June 2018 – The 'Gypsy King' returns

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    December 2018 – Controversy reigns in Los Angeles

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    October 2019 – Fury a 'Crown Jewel' for WWE

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