Dana White: Conor McGregor and Muhammad Ali are the best ever at mental warfare
There are a few untouchable icons in sports history where a comparison to a modern athlete ends up more of a hindrance than a compliment.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is one of those people, but UFC president Dana White says when it comes to the art of mental warfare it’s impossible not to compare him to current interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor.
McGregor is well known for mentally battering his opponents before ever stepping foot inside the Octagon, and it’s worked to his advantage on many occasions. Similar to Ali, who did so throughout his boxing career, where it felt like he already won many of his fights before ever throwing a punch.
"You don’t ever want to be that guy, especially when you’re a promoter, that’s comparing somebody to (Muhammad) Ali, you just don’t want to do that — but if you think throughout the history of the fight game the two guys that you’ve ever seen that were just absolutely world class at the mental warfare game it’s Muhammad Ali and Conor McGregor," White said on the "Mike & Mike Show" on Thursday.
McGregor has become one of the most popular and talked about fighters to ever compete in MMA and a large part of that is thanks to the verbal barrage he unleashes at his opponents prior to every fight.
It’s impossible to ignore that McGregor beats virtually everyone he faces in a war of words, and he’s followed through on his predictions each and every time he’s taken on someone new in the UFC.
"He is obviously a very aggressive guy, very intelligent and the best ever at the mental warfare game," White said. "The beating he gives you before you even get in there to fight is second to none."
That being said, White believes one of the most intriguing aspects of McGregor’s upcoming fight with featherweight champion Jose Aldo is that he’s now facing one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and arguably one of the best of all time.
Aldo has defended his title on seven occasions and he still remains the only undisputed featherweight champion in UFC history. Now he’ll face his biggest test in McGregor as the two square off next Saturday night in Las Vegas.
"He’s got this charisma about him. People are talking about him more than they’re talking about Jose Aldo," White said about McGregor.
"But what makes this fight so great and what makes this fight so interesting and why people care is because of Jose Aldo’s credentials and who he is and can Conor McGregor beat this guy."