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‘Khabib can say whatever he wants,’ but White’s sure he’d come back for McGregor

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor
Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

“He hates Conor McGregor so bad.”

If Dana White is gearing up to put together a rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, it seems like he’s also gearing up to start pushing the same narrative around the fight vis-à-vis the lightweight division’s recently retired champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Heading into Poirier vs. McGregor 2 back at UFC 257, White couldn’t have been clearer with his hopes for the matchup. A Conor McGregor win, he seemed to feel, would give him just the leverage he needed to convince the ‘Eagle’ not to hang up his spurs just quite yet. And now, with his plans to re-book the bout, following McGregor’s KO loss, it appears the stakes haven’t changed. At least not in terms of the UFC boss’ end goals.

“I believe, I truly believe this—he can say whatever he wants, Khabib can say whatever he wants,” White told ESPN in a recent interview. “I believe that if the right—if this thing plays out – the right guy, however the fight happens – he’ll fight him. I believe that. I truly believe that.

“And you know it too Khabib,” White added, pointing at the camera. “I know you know it. I can see it in his face when we talk. I know. You just, you don’t go your whole life – and be an incredible competitor, like this guy is – and then one day just say, ‘Alright that’s it.’ Right before 30-0 and he’s gonna say, ‘Alright, I just don’t have that competitive spirit anymore?’ I’m not buying it.”

In a separate recent media scrum, White was asked what it would take for him to “leave Khabib alone.” But, in his own words, “It’s not gonna happen.”

“Until Khabib says, ‘Leave me alone! Leave me alone, stop asking me. I’m done.’ He’s not saying that is he? Is he saying that?”

“Hey, Khabib’s not meeting with me for no reason,” White added, when asked the same question by ESPN. “He would say, ‘There’s no need to meet. What’s the point in having a meeting? Love ya, it’s been great. Thank you, but we don’t need to meet. You know my answer.’ He hasn’t said that, has he?”

As to just why White is so convinced that the AKA talent won’t be walking away for good—and why Conor McGregor is the key to making a return fight happen? White believes the two men are still absolutely bitter rivals.

“I also believe, he hates Conor McGregor so bad,” White explained. “The hate that these two have is as real as anything you have ever seen. And I believe that if Conor came out of this thing, and Conor was going to be the guy to win the title? Now I truly believe that he would fight Conor. I believe that. Maybe I’m wrong, but we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Still, after the last time Poirier and McGregor met, it seems like an especially chancy proposition to be banking on a McGregor win as the cornerstone to future negotiations. If the ‘Notorious’ can’t find a path to victory this time around, how long will White keep beating the Khabib vs. McGregor 2 drum?

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