UFC president Dana White believes featherweight champion Conor McGregor “doesn’t avoid anybody,” he said in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated.
“Say what you want about Conor McGregor ... he doesn’t avoid anybody, and he literally will fight anybody, anywhere, any time,” White said.
“Conor McGregor is as real a guy as we have ever had in the history of this company,” the UFC president added.
McGregor (19–2), who usually fights at 145 pounds, will fight veteran Nate Diaz (19–10) in a welterweight bout at UFC 196 on March 5, after lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos withdrew from the fight Tuesday due to a broken foot.
According to White, Diaz was among a list of fighters that wanted to replace dos Anjos, including Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and BJ Penn. He also said that Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo turned down the short notice fight.
White told McGregor on Tuesday that while Diaz had agreed to fight him, he would not participate in the bout at 160 pounds, as White had hoped he would.
“I tell Conor, ‘[Diaz] can’t do 160 pounds, he wants to do 165 pounds,’” White said.
McGregor’s response: “You tell him it’s 170.”
Diaz is coming off a unanimous decision win over Michael Johnson on Dec. 19. The Ultimate Fighter Season Five winner has lost three of his last five fights.
McGregor has knocked out his opponents in five consecutive fights. His last bout lasted just 13 seconds, as he KO’d Jose Aldo to claim the featherweight title.
Watch White’s full interview here.