For as exciting as UFC 196 was on Saturday, many MMA writers, believe it or not, feel the event was a financial disaster for UFC. That’s because Holly Holm lost, which takes away from a potential rematch with Ronda Rousey, and Conor McGregor, who had looked unstoppable, lost for the first time in more than five years to Nate Diaz, who entered the night having lost three of his previous five fights.
To use a basketball analogy, two No. 1 seeds lost on the same night to heavy underdogs. So yeah, total disaster, right?
“All these geniuses are always saying stupid stuff,” UFC president Dana White said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Since the early days: What’s going to happen to the UFC when Chuck Liddell is gone? what’s going to happen when GSP (Georges St. Pierre) is gone. What about Anderson Silva? And the list just goes on and on. Saturday night was an amazing night. It was an amazing night for everybody – for the UFC, for fans. People show up to see fights – and that’s what you saw on Saturday night. How is that ever a bad thing?”
McGregor, it is worth noting, normally weighs 145 pounds but got up to 168 to fight Diaz.
“He moved up two weight classes to take on Nate Diaz – just to fight,” White said in disbelief. “Nobody looks at Conor negatively after that fight and he’s still the 145-pound champion. That was one of those moments where two bad dudes just wanted to fight and weight classes didn’t matter. I don’t think it diminished anything about Conor. I actually think it made people like Conor more.”
White said McGregor’s next fight will likely involve defending his 145-pound title. He also dismissed the notion that McGregor lost his luster or must tone down his bravado now that he has tasted UFC defeat.
But for the longest time, Doug Gottlieb said, McGregor acted like the baddest man in the octagon. Can he still say that? Really?
“He didn’t look like a bad dude that whole first round?” White asked rhetorically. “Let me tell you what: For as long as Georges St. Pierre – a very respected champion in the UFC – (dominated), we always wanted to do the super fight between him and Anderson Silva: 170 pounds against 185. That’s one weight class. Georges St. Pierre would not do it. Ever. To jump up two weight classes – (McGregor) jumped up from 145 to 170. Nobody does that. This guy is fun, man. This is what fighting is all about.”