UFC President Dana White reacts to Conor McGregor's alleged mob run-in at Dublin pub

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LAS VEGAS – UFC President Dana White doesn’t believe reports out of Ireland that lightweight champion Conor McGregor allegedly punched a mob associate during a bar brawl.

But if McGregor did, White today told reporters, things can be worked out.

“Can’t be a good thing for Conor,” White said during a media luncheon Tuesday at UFC headquarters. “But I’m sure it can be worked out, too. Jake LaMotta’s brother beat the (expletive) out of a wise guy, too, and they figured it out.”

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) has made headlines nonstop in recent weeks and not for reasons pertaining to the octagon. Multiple reports claimed a famous Irish sports star – one specifically naming McGregor – got into a row Sunday night in a Dublin pub and punched a man in his 50s with alleged ties to organized crime.

According to the Irish Independent, the incident began when the sports star attempted to assault a young man, and the man in his 50s was punched when he stepped in to intervene. The sports star was ushered out of the club and sped away.

The report claims the older man is close to convicted drug dealer Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan, a member of the Kinahan cartel, which has been linked to an ongoing gang war in Dublin.

White is no stranger to organized crime. He claims he moved to Las Vegas after being threatened by associates of notorious mobster Whitey Bulger. But White is skeptical things are as bad as they sound with McGregor.

“I don’t think it’s true, because if it were true, it would be big,” White said. “Conor can walk down the street, and it’s big news now. If this was true, I would just have to believe it would be off-the-charts crazy.”

White clarified that he has yet to hear from McGregor’s people for an official update on the situation. Right now, White is still trying to figure out a new contract for the UFC’s biggest star.

“If it’s true, we’ll end up finding out,” White said. “I can’t chase all these things around. If they’re true, we’ll get it figured it out, and we’ll go from there.”

The reports come mere weeks after McGregor entered the cage at Bellator 187 and assaulted veteran MMA referee Marc Goddard and a Bellator employee. McGregor later apologized for the incident.

A prior apology was in line after McGregor was caught on camera using a homophobic slur backstage at last month’s UFC Fight Night 118.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Give a (expletive)? Tickets for UFC 217 on sale today

When UFC President Dana White is your social media manager, don’t expect Madison Avenue messaging.

White today announced UFC 217 tickets on sale in the way that only Dana White can, adding a special caption to the poster the Nov. 4 pay-per-view.

“For those of u who give a (expletive)….. tickets for UFC at MSG go on sale today,” White wrote.

He might not sound like it, but White hopes fans do give one. It’s the UFC’s much-anticipated return to Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the promotion is coming in hot with the return of former UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC). “Rush” adds 15 pounds to his usual frame to take on perennial heel and middleweight champ Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC).

Adding star power to the card are a pair of title fights. Bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) defends against longtime rival T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), and women’s strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) attempting to tie ex-champ Ronda Rousey’s title defense record at six in a bout against Rose Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC). It’s quite rare the UFC brings three title fights in one night.

Tickets went on sale at 7 a.m. today, and as of 1:30 ET, the buy in was $306 on Ticketmaster with a pair of front-row seats going for $6,512.

Of course, there’s still two months until the event. If prices perform anything like they did for “The Money Fight,” there could be discounts to be had.

So buy them or don’t, you goofs.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

One UFC middleweight standout's take on Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping

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There’s been a fair amount of hand-wringing over the upcoming UFC middleweight title bout between Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping, even if the reaction has been blunted by time and the latest turns in the division.

When it was first announced, UFC fighters were among those who cast a sideways glance at the matchup. But after the booking was canceled, an interim middleweight title bout narrowed the field of contenders, and Bisping’s ship “(expletive) turned around and sailed back,” one middleweight veteran sees the sense in it.

“(Robert) Whittaker and (Yoel) Romero fought for that belt,” Brad Tavares (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) told MMAjunkie Radio. “And Whittaker’s hurt, so what are they going to do? Have somebody below Whittaker fight for the belt? No. So they’re going to have this big money fight.”

For some fighters, that’s a slap in the face for those who’ve worked their way up the ranks with the expectation of being rewarded with a title shot. Tavares, a fighter who’s always done his talking in the cage, is one of those fighters. He stands to lose a lot if the promotion passes him over because it wants a bigger number at the box office.

And yet the 29-year-old Las Vegas native can’t bring himself to dismiss St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) as Bisping’s (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) opponent at UFC 217, which takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and airs on pay-per-view.

“(St-Pierre) always was a draw,” Tavares said. “Maybe some people see it as he doesn’t deserve it, but when the man was fighting, he put in his work. Granted, it was in a different weight class, but it’s not that far away. And ‘GSP’ always was a big dude. So business-wise, it makes sense. The No. 1 contenders fought each other, and they already panned that out.”

Tavares takes a different stance on cross-divisional fights, on the other hand. He said welterweight champ Tyron Woodley’s recent call to face the winner of St-Pierre vs. Bisping – after White denied him the first crack at St-Pierre following a lackluster title defense at UFC 214 – is an overreach and “doesn’t make make any sense.”

“If they made that happen, now you have an interim champion waiting in the wings, for what? You have to unify the belts first,” Tavares said. “That should have been the next fight, but due to injury, it didn’t happen. So it makes sense to me.

“I’m sure there are people that are right right there that are pretty pissed about it, like ‘(Expletive), I should be getting the shot.’ But how are any of them jump the interim champion for this money fight?”

Current interim titleholder Whittaker is expected to meet the winner of St-Pierre vs. Bisping after he heals from a knee injury he sustained prior to beating Yoel Romero at UFC 213.

Meanwhile, two ex-champs are also inching into the title picture. In July, Chris Weidman snapped a three-fight skid with an impressive win over Kelvin Gastelum, and Luke Rockhold returns to action on Sept. 16 against ex-WSOF champ David Branch.

Tavares currently is on a two-fight win streak, so he’s a long way from making any title demands. But he’s feeling better about the promotion after it booked his past two fights in Las Vegas, which brought local support rather than hostile crowds around the world.

“In the past, I’ve been frustrated, not with the matches themselves, but where (they were),” he said. “At one point, I was frickin’ going into everybody’s back yards to fight them, even when I was on a win streak. I’ve been lucky enough these past two to get it right here in Vegas.”

The MMA world will be watching when St-Pierre returns from a four-year layoff to face Bisping. If the French Canadian, now 36, is successful at 185 pounds, it will throw an interesting wrench in the division. But it also might not last for more than two fights.

As long as Whittaker gets the next shot, Tavares isn’t complaining.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Did Mayweather vs. McGregor do 6.5 million PPV buys like Urijah Faber claims Dana White said?

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When he’s not sipping gin and juice or dodging Snoop Dogg’s vape pen, Urijah Faber apparently is getting fans the inside scoop on “The Money Fight.”

Tuesday on the set of Dana White’s Contender Series, the UFC Hall of Famer’s Instagram story captured the UFC president apparently giving the coveted pay-per-view buys number for Conor McGregor’s boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather.

We can’t be sure what White said, since the feed – saved by MMAjunkie contributor Chamatkar Sandhu – started a little late. It starts at the point White says “million pay-per-view buys” without the total, but Faber’s words are crystal clear on the number he heard: 6.5 million.

If that’s true, the number obliterates the pay-per-view record set by Mayweather’s “Fight of the Century” against Manny Pacquiao, which did a reported 4.6 million buys.

At the $99.95 price point advertised for the high-definition feed, “The Money Fight” printed almost $650 million in revenue, or $50 million more than Mayweather-Pacquiao. Even if only half ordered the HD feed and the other did the standard feed for 89.95, it still comes out ahead by about $17 million.

Consider that number in the face of widespread piracy reported to siphon almost three million viewers, and it makes the number all the more impressive. Plus, it doesn’t even include the event’s live gate, sponsorship figures, or other ancillary revenue streams.

Now, all they have to do is split the dough.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing) made a disclosed $30 million to lose a 10th-round TKO to Mayweather (50-0 boxing) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather, meanwhile, took home a disclosed $100 million. How much of that goes to the UFC, which signed on late as a co-promoter of the event alongside Mayweather Promotions, is the million-dollar question.

With technical difficulties causing massive outages on the UFC’s online network, a chunk of that money could be going back to the fans. Whatever the final number is, though, it’s gotta be big – and it couldn’t come at a better time with the MMA promotion struggling this year on pay-per-view.

If White’s big smile is any indication, it was a much-needed home run.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Dana White: Refunds in works for UFC.tv customers who missed Mayweather-McGregor fight

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After promising to take care of fans left out by technical difficulties during the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor “Money Fight,” UFC President Dana White is now making a promise to UFC.tv customers who didn’t get what they paid for.

In a statement released today on Twitter, White again expressed his desire to take care of fans. This time he said the magic word: “refund.”

“We always try to put on the most exciting fights,” White said in the statement. “We want our fans to have the best experience when watching our events. Unfortunately, we didn’t deliver the way we wanted on Saturday because of NeuLion’s technical issues on UFC.tv. As usual, we always take care of our fans and will fix this. We have started processing refunds immediately for anyone that could not access the fight after purchase.”

The UFC’s online network received the bulk of complaints on social media after fans were booted off the event stream or couldn’t log into their accounts. Many had purchased the event – priced at $99.95 for the high-definition signal – before it started, as the promotion advised.

Some fans were forced to pay twice for the fight card despite missing large portions of the event. Others received the feed well after the start of the main event between McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing) and Mayweather (50-0 boxing) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Customer service reps for UFC.tv told some customers they would not receive a refund for the trouble and deflected inquiries to NeuLion. One customer was directed to watch an illegal stream of the event. On Monday, the promotion issued a statement saying it was looking into the matter, and White said of fans, “We’ll always take care of them.”

UFC.tv was not the only provider of the pay-per-view event that encountered problems. Customers purchasing the event through Showtime, Verizon, Comcast, and others also reported outages or difficulties purchasing the event.

Showtime subsequently said it would provide refunds to customers who’d purchased the event through its platform but referred others to the point of sale. One Showtime customer is now pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the premium channel for providing a substandard product.

Several fans MMAjunkie spoke to elected to circumvent the customer service process after their initial frustrations and fight charges with the credit card companies or banks.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Dana White proud of Conor McGregor after Floyd Mayweather fight, but wants him back in UFC

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LAS VEGAS – UFC President Dana White had nothing but praise for Conor McGregor despite his loss to Floyd Mayweather.

When it comes to the UFC lightweight champion’s future, however, White wants it to be in the octagon – not the squared circle.

“This isn’t what he does,” White said at the post-fight press conference for “The Money Fight” on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “He’s a mixed martial artist, where he goes in and uses all of his weapons, and tonight he was only allowed to use his hands.

“I think he did great tonight. I don’t think there’s anything left to prove. I would rather he fight in MMA.”

McGregor (21- 3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing) started strong against Mayweather (50-0 boxing) before fading under pressure from body shots and a persistent attack. A flurry of shots prompted referee Robert Byrd to intervene and declare a TKO at the 1:05 mark of the 10th round.

Two of three judges had Mayweather winning all but the first round – a bizarre finding considering McGregor’s early work. But in the end, the Irish champ did far better than most expected.

For his part, White said he didn’t have much desire to stage another big crossover fight pitting an MMA fighter against a boxer. He noted, “I’m ready to get back to the UFC and do what I do.”

But White couldn’t wait to gloat against detractors of his first experiment.

“(Boxing commentator) Max Kellerman, I’ve been trying to get ahold of him. He ain’t answering his phone right now. He said Conor wouldn’t land one punch on Floyd Mayweather,” White said. “There were a lot of people that were super negative about this with Floyd.”

But instead, White pointed out, McGregor had availed himself better than most of Mayweather’s opponents. He cited a Compubox stat where opponents of the undefeated boxer had landed less than 100 strikes in nine of his bouts that went 12 rounds. McGregor landed 111 before he was stopped at the 1:05 mark of the 10th.

A moral victory, perhaps. But a victory nonetheless for a fighter with no professional boxing experience.

“I don’t know if tonight was the best boxing you’ve ever seen, but Conor was landing jabs on Floyd Mayweather,” White said. “Conor looked damn good tonight to me.”

White said he’d been speaking with McGregor backstage after the fight, but the two haven’t discussed what’s next. Given the money McGregor will make for “The Money Fight,” there will be questions of whether he’ll have demands for the UFC if he’s to return to the octagon, possibly at the end of this year.

White confidently said there’s an easy fix for that.

“If our fights do what our fights do, what the buys did here and the gate, nobody will be bitching,” he said.

For complete coverage of “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Showtime exec refutes Dana White's claim about McGregor vs. Malignaggi footage

A short clip of sparring footage between Conor McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi set the combat sports world on fire.

Millions of people watched as Malignaggi spilled to the canvas after an exchange with McGregor. Was it a punch? Was it a trip? Everyone had an opinion.

But getting the full footage of the sparring? That was its own drama, according to Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza. Including the sparring on Showtime’s “All Access” – a seeming no-brainer for the promotional documentary – wasn’t as easy as making a request.

Espinoza refuted a claim from UFC President Dana White that the UFC sent Showtime “a ton of footage” to include in the promotional documentary for “The Money Fight” and left it on the cutting room floor to protect Malignaggi, a Showtime commentator.

Espinoza said it was actually McGregor’s team sending the footage – and it certainly wasn’t all of it.

“We received a few short clips,” he told The Sporting News. “Roughly a minute total which were provided by the Conor camp. We reviewed them and were very interested in using them and including them in ‘All Access.’

“But it was a series of sort of spliced-together McGregor highlights, eight or nine seconds each. We didn’t want to use the whole thing. It was sort of repetitive. We were told if we didn’t use the whole segment as they edited it then we couldn’t use it at all. So in the end, Conor’s camp withheld permission for us to use it.”

White claimed the sparring session between McGregor and Malignaggi was a one-sided beatdown in favor of the UFC lightweight champion, and Malignaggi’s decision to leave McGregor’s camp shortly after arriving was good for his health.

“(Showtime) denied (the sparring footage), because they didn’t want to make Paulie look bad,” White said. “They didn’t show any of it. They had a ton of the sparring footage, and they wanted to use zero. I have nothing against Paulie. I don’t even know the guy. You know me when guys start talking (expletive). I actually felt bad for the guy.”

Malignaggi, in turn, blasted White for releasing the footage on social media accounts. He accused the promoter of withholding the full footage to obscure McGregor’s minuscule chances against Mayweather when they headline the Showtime pay-per-view on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Malignaggi is set to serve as a commentator.

McGregor dismissed Malignaggi’s anger as “concussion talk” and on Wednesday laughed at the former two-division champ’s callout, telling him to “get in the queue.”

McGregor plans to box and compete in MMA after facing Mayweather. No shortage of opponents await him in both sports. But a fight with Malignaggi seems like a no-brainer, if the reaction to the footage is any indication.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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