When UFC president Dana White first met Conor McGregor he didn’t know that he was talking to a future two-division UFC champion. He wasn’t sure if McGregor was a good fighter or not, but he instantly recognized McGregor’s potential star power. Superstars don’t come around everyday. They’re unicorns.
“In this sport you’re only going to have so many superstars. They’re very rare and very hard to find,” White said about McGregor while appearing on The Exchange.
McGregor took self-promotion to a level never before seen in mixed martial arts. He knew what to say and when to say it with an eye out for a camera pointed in his direction.
“I mean, you sit down and you listen to him, and when he’s joking, and when he laughs. He’s a very contagious guy… His timing is perfect. He’s witty. He’s smart. He’s hilarious.”
McGregor has headlined some of the biggest UFC pay-per-view events in the promotion’s history, including the most purchased UFC pay-per-view with his UFC 202 rematch against Nate Diaz. The Irishman’s charisma and popularity separates him from everyone else on the UFC’s roster. White admitted that he gives “The Notorious” more leeway than other fighters.
“Conor and I have always had a great relationship. Listen; do I give Conor a little more leash than I give some other people? Absolutely. You know why? Because Conor is one of these guys who steps up and fights. He steps up, he fights, puts all his chips out on the table. He’s one of a kind.”
A Conor McGregor is a promotion’s dream. He promotes a fight like no one else in the sport today and wins. White believes there’s only one other fighter in the history of combat sports that understood self-promotion as much as McGregor.
“That’s how Conor became Conor, at press conferences and doing media. And he’s great at it. He’s the best. Seriously, he’s the best. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody in the sport ever, other than (Muhammad) Ali, who is so entertaining, that can take a press conference and turn it into a must-see.”