Conor McGregor has suffered through four different opponent changes in his first eight fights with the UFC, but the featherweight champion has never hesitated for a second to accept a last minute replacement.
Even when lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos was forced out of UFC 196 earlier this week, McGregor didn’t blink and immediately asked the promotion to find him another opponent.
UFC president Dana White says McGregor has entered rarified air when it comes to the history of fighters he’s promoted because there’s only been one other person with the same willingness to always accept any challenge and he’s a Hall of Famer.
You know how many times opponents pull out and most guys wouldn’t fight. He doesn’t care. He’ll fight anybody, anywhere, any time and he absolutely means it.
— Dana White on Conor McGregor
"A lot of people say I’ll fight anybody, anywhere, any time. Not many really do it," White said on LA Today radio on Thursday. "A lot of people talk, not a lot of people do. Chuck Liddell and Conor McGregor are two guys. Conor McGregor doesn’t care who it is."
White says a great number of fighters talk a good game when it comes to the attitude of taking on any opponent at any time but in reality only a few are willing to take the challenge.
It seems like McGregor is leading that charge and White sees that as a major reason why he’s not only one of the highest paid fighters in the sport but he’s quickly becoming the most popular as well.
"You know how many times opponents pull out and most guys wouldn’t fight. He doesn’t care. He’ll fight anybody, anywhere, any time and he absolutely means it," White said about McGregor. "The difference is what I know as opposed to what other people know, I’m the guy who’s on the phone making these phone calls when this stuff happens. I’m the one who hears what these guys really think and what they really mean and let me tell you, it’s what makes Conor McGregor, Conor McGregor. It’s amazing.
"This kid is the reason people become fight fans."
The latest on UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor
There is a downside to McGregor’s willingness to fight any opponent the UFC throws at him.
His original fight at UFC 196 would have given McGregor the chance to wrestle the lightweight title away from dos Anjos, thus making him the first simultaneous two-weight class world champion in promotion history.
Now, McGregor is facing Nate Diaz with less than two weeks to prepare while moving up 25 pounds from his last fight to compete at welterweight. A win would certainly elevate McGregor’s celebrity even more but a loss would knock him back down the ladder and likely out of any potential lightweight title fight later this year.
White says that’s the risk and reward nature of the fight business, but McGregor is one person who embraces it.
It’s one of the reasons why McGregor is on top of the world.
"You don’t protect guys. We make fights. That’s what we do," White said. "We pair the best up with the best or when situations like this happen and two guys really want to fight each other, then you make it happen. That’s really the business that we’re in.
"Conor McGregor wants to fight. This guy wants to fight. He wants to prove himself in different weight classes against the best in the world. When you find a rare guy like this, you roll with it."