UFC’s best card in months overshadowed by the absent Conor McGregor | Les Carpenter

UFC 211 on Saturday night in Dallas promises to be something special, but the headlines continue to be about the Irishman and a fight that might never happen

On Saturday night, the UFC will offer what is possibly their best card in five months with two title pushes including one with arising female starring Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Its a lineup so good that last summertimes lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez isnt even on the main card.

But much of the UFC news this weekend is less about the contests at Dallass American Airlines Center and more about someone who hasnt fought in more than five months. And there is nothing to say this predicament is going to end soon. Even as the UFC pushes on selling Stipe Miocic v Junior Dos Santos as a headliner on Saturday the headlines continue to be about Conor McGregor and a fight that might never happen.

On Thursday, UFC president Dana White told radio emcee Jim Rome that he is setting a Sunday deadline for finishing negotiations with McGregor on a possible Mayweather fight before looking to work with Mayweathers agents next week. His proclamation was a bigger deal than anything that happened in the pre-fight discourse in Dallas, save for Fridays announcement that Jon Jones is going to meet Daniel Cormier in July. Whatever McGregor does stands as the biggest thing going on with White UFC.

Perhaps a year ago it wasnt this practice. A year ago, McGregor was just arising off his non-title loss to Nate Diaz, dulling his soaring star. There was also talk Ronda Rousey might render that summer after her stunning loss to Holly Holm and in many ways Rousey was always the UFCs most-compelling figure. But now, 12 month ago, the UFC has been sold to corporate proprietors and White says he is certain Rouseys through after Amanda Nunes took her apart in UFC 207. This leaves McGregor as “the organizations activities” one great draw.

He has gotten big in his planned half-year hiatus and paternity leave. He tower larger than ever over the UFC, technically holding both the UFCs lightweight and featherweight designations although he since had to return the featherweight belt after hit Alvarez for the lightweight title in November. No fighter might better understand their leverage better and he is well aware that his only shot at a $75 m- $100 m payday is to step into a boxing reverberating with Mayweather. Until he does that, the talk around the UFC will be McGregor even if McGregor continues to sit out.

Saturday night should be a fete to seeing how deep the UFC abides. The Miocic-Dos Santos rematch is a pairing of two explosive hitters. Jedrzejczyk is a ferocious boxer who has devastated her last various opponents. Alvarez remains a skilled soldier who exactly wasnt a match for McGregor as few are.

But many of the UFC headlines at the end of this week are about Whites deadline and his confidence that he can pull together a McGregor-Mayweather fight . I will do the Mayweather-McGregor fight because I think he deserves it, White told CNN this week . On a weekend when all the stories should be about a loaded placard, they are about a proposed fight that White speaks will realize zero pennies for the UFC.

There isnt much he can do about this unless another enormous ace comes along. Jones, the organizations once-great champion, is finally coming back from the year-long doping suspension that broke UFC 200. His battles with Cormier are always good amusement. But after all of Joness difficulties in recent years there is no certainty he will be the fighter he was once. Cris Cyborg has been cleared of a possible doping irreverence and affirms predict of being as exciting as Rousey had been. But will any of them have the panache of McGregor and Rousey? Can they bringing the same mainstream appeal? Can anyone?

For now, McGregor waits. He can afford to do this after taking four fights in 11 months and carrying the UFC to its immense auction before his sabbatical. Whatever he decides to do will have a huge impact on the rest of the organization. Every surface male fighter within realistic interval of his heavines class is longing for a shot at him, knowing the only real money is in a McGregor fight. Diaz, for example, remains on the sidelines since his 20 August rematch loss to McGregor, flouting at Whites offerings of fighters like Alvarez.

Call me with some real shit, Diaz recently told Ariel Helwanis The MMA Hour.

For now, Diaz must stand in line with everyone else lusting for their McGregor chance as McGregor chases Mayweather money.

Meanwhile the UFC will put one over a great demonstrate Saturday night.

Is anyone paying attention?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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