Dana White backs up Conor McGregor for not defending lightweight title, shuts down McGregor-GSP rumors

Dana White (L) continues to support lightweight champ Conor McGregor, despite his absence in the cage. (AP)

It has been over a year since Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title by knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. Since then, McGregor has done just about everything from releasing a movie to stepping into a boxing ring against Floyd Mayweather. The only thing he hasn’t done is defend the 155-pound title. And there’s a contingency of fans and fighters who are demanding that McGregor either defend or vacate the title.

One person who has taken no issue with McGregor’s extended hiatus from the Octagon is UFC president Dana White, who defended the Irishman from his “haters” in an interview with ESPN.

“For people to suggest that, you’re just a Conor hater,” White told ESPN. “Because if you look at how everything played out, Conor has fought everybody. When he won the 155-pound belt, he dropped the 145-pound belt, which we made him do. He tried not to do it, but he contractually had to let go of the 145-pound belt.”

McGregor became the undisputed 145-pound champion with a stunning knockout of Jose Aldo in December of 2015 but never defended the title. Instead, he attempted to fight for the lightweight title but Rafael dos Anjos suffered an injury and McGregor instead jumped up to the 170-pound weight class to face Nate Diaz in March of 2016. Diaz shocked the world by submitting McGregor in the second round, but McGregor won the return fight five months later as a welterweight at UFC 202. In November of that year he claimed the 155-pound title and hasn’t fought in the Octagon since. However, he was involved in the biggest earning fight of 2017 when he fought Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match in August.

“It wasn’t Conor’s fault [dos Anjos] got hurt. It is Conor’s fault he did Mayweather, but we decided to do the Mayweather fight and everybody gave a [expletive],” White said. “And after the fight, every fighter in the UFC gave him props for representing the sport.”

While away, Tony Ferguson won the interim lightweight title by stopping Kevin Lee in October and has called out McGregor for a unification bout. White is hopeful that McGregor can return no later than summer of 2018 but wouldn’t say who his opponent might be.

One person you won’t have to worry about seeing the Irishman fight, according to White, is Georges St-Pierre.

The former welterweight champion recently returned after a four-year hiatus and defeated Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title. But shortly after winning, GSP vacated the title and cited health reasons. White wasn’t happy with St-Pierre’s decision to vacate the title and was quick to shut down speculation that the French-Canadian may face McGregor in what would certainly be the biggest fight that can be made in the UFC.

“He ain’t fighting Conor McGregor,” White said. “If he wants to come back, [UFC welterweight champion] Tyron Woodley or [middleweight champion] Robert Whittaker is waiting for him. They’re both waiting, if Georges wants to come back.”

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