Kenny Florian explains why the UFC can’t afford to part ways with Conor McGregor

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Kenny Florian joins Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock to address rumors of Conor McGregor fighting Floyd Mayweather in a UFC match.

- All right, Whitlock, you actually think we'll see Floyd fight Conor in the octagon?

- I've said it from the outset, yes. It is the money team. It is not the integrity team.

And so Floyd Mayweather will do whatever is necessary to make more money. And when I look at Dana White going from, this is the worst thing that's ever hap-- the Conor McGregor blow up before UFC 223-- it's the worst thing that's ever happened. It's disgusting. It's criminal, to, oh, well it's not that bad. Hell, Conor may be fighting next weekend. Who knows?

[LAUGHTER]

That, to me, is about a cash register ringing. And Dana wants Floyd in the octagon with Conor McGregor. That's going to make the cash register ring again. Yeah, I think it's going to happen.

- I think Dana, initially, as the guy running this sport in a commissioner role, had to come out and say, this is awful. And then I think Dana listened to the voices in radio and TV. And we were all going, well, it did make us talk about Conor.

[LAUGHTER]

And I think Dana came in today, and his quote was, "I've seen worse in other sports."

To your point is, if these two fought Friday, I'm not going out. I'm watching the fight. And I would say-- and I say this respectfully about the UFC-- boxing and the UFC are as popular as their stars. There's a little star void right now. Isn't there?

KENNY FLORIAN: Yeah. I mean, absolutely. And Conor is as big as it gets. He's one of the few guys who have transcended the sport, taken it to the next level. Everybody knows who Conor McGregor is.

If you stop Conor from being able to fight, he's going to go and do something else. He'll go back and do another boxing match, whatever. He brings in hundreds of millions of dollars for the sport. It's hard to say no to that guy.

- My issue, Kenny, what I would push back against Conor, this whole ultimate bad boy in all of sports. If the end game is Floyd, I don't think that's the best brand to sell the fight. I'm a worse guy than Floyd Mayweather

Again, if I were him I would have played the other schtick, and said, I'm a better guy than Floyd Mayweather. That would make the fight more interesting and easier to sell.

Now what you're going to be selling is really two despicable characters. That could, to me, short circuit this or to have it not reach the financial potential it could if one of these guys was in a different lane.

But having said that, I think both of them are-- Conor, certainly, at this time-- so fascinating that the fight will happen. It will make sense. I'm not sure if it will make as much money as the last one. But I don't know if it has to in order to satisfy Floyd and/or Conor McGregor.

- I agree with you. I think you kind of need a good guy and a bad guy. Conor should have played that role. I don't know how much of this was a marketing ploy and how much this was just Conor making a very stupid mistake.

I think for Conor, he has kind of created this character of Conor McGregor, of being the gangster guy and showing up the mink coat, and kind of being the bad guy, the guy who talks trash. He kind of thinks he's that character now.

COLIN COWHERD: Yeah. He's gone from playing it to being it.

- Absolutely. And that's a big mistake. And I think, hopefully, he learns from this. Going to court, he's going to find out really quickly it's a great way to lose a lot of money.

- Did you think it was a stunt?

- No, I don't. I do think-- look, if we buy into the character, Conor's a hard-living guy. And so I can-- this-- he-- hung over, whatever. Just when you ingest alcohol or other chemicals, you're a little off your square. And you can snap like that.

And so, no, I don't think it was staged. I think it was an authentic thing from Conor.

- Couldn't I argue, though, that every sport needs a lane. Like football's the sport we gamble and watch on TV. You know, baseball's an older demographic with golf.

UFC's been in a fight its entire life. McCain wanted to knock it off cable. Boxing wanted to squish it.

I could make the argument, it's the bad boy sport.

JASON WHITLOCK: No, it's the "Sons of Anarchy."

[LAUGHTER]

- And Conor is the baddest of the bad boys. I watched this moment, and I was like-- You know, I really-- I thought about it a lot for two days, and I'm like, I don't know. It seems to me that kind of plays to UFC's brand. We're the outsider. We're the rebel. We got the craziest guy in sports. I think it helped the sport.

- Do we think as a plan B, how big is Conor versus Khabib?

- It's not as big as him versus Floyd as far as buys. But I think it would be a huge fight.

Obviously, we have an even juicier story now. Khabib is undefeated. He has the kind of stone cold Russian thing going on.

JASON WHITLOCK: [CHUCKLES] [INAUDIBLE]

- Obviously, they hate each other. Yeah, exactly. And imagine that fight in Russia. That's Rocky IV all over again.

- That's interesting. Because that isn't two villains. That is the stoic Russian and the wild Irishman. Now that is marketable. To me, that fight gets me to a TV.

[ROCK MUSIC PLAYING]