UFC’s excellent placard in months overshadowed by the absent-minded 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 volunteer what is possibly the most appropriate placard in five months with two title engages including one with rising female hotshot Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Its a lineup so good that last summers lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez isnt even on the central 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 oppose in more than five months. And there is nothing to say this quagmire is going to end soon. Even as the UFC pushes on exchanging 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 legion 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 congresswomen next week. His proclamation was a bigger spate 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 holds as the most difficult situation going on with Whites UFC.

Perhaps a year ago it wasnt this style. A year ago, McGregor was just coming off his non-title loss to Nate Diaz, dulling his soaring stellar. There was also talk Ronda Rousey might revert that summer after her impressive loss to Holly Holm and in many ways Rousey was always the UFCs most-compelling figure. But now, 12 months later, 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 one great draw.

He has gotten bigger in his planned half-year hiatus and paternity leave. He tower greater than ever over the UFC, technically deeming both the UFCs lightweight and featherweight names although he since had to return the featherweight loop after hitting Alvarez for the lightweight designation 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 ring 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 observance to seeing how deep the UFC persists. The Miocic-Dos Santos rematch is a pairing of two explosive hitters. Jedrzejczyk is a fierce soldier who has devastated her last-place several opposings. Alvarez remains a skilled soldier who only wasnt a match for McGregor as few are.

But many of the UFC headlines at the end of the coming week are about Whites deadline and his confidence that he was able to pull together a McGregor-Mayweather fight .~ ATAGEND I will do the Mayweather-McGregor fight because I think he deserve it, White told CNN the coming week .~ ATAGEND On a weekend when all the fibs should be about a loaded poster, “theyre about” a proposed combat that White says will induce zero cents for the UFC.

There isnt much he can do about this unless another enormous adept comes along. Jones, the organizations once-great champion, is eventually coming back from the year-long drugging suspension that broke UFC 200. His battles with Cormier are always good entertainment. But after all of Joness difficulties in recent years “were not receiving” certainty he will be the fighter he was once. Cris Cyborg has been cleared of a possible doping irreverence and nurses promise of has become a rousing as Rousey had been. But will any of them have the panache of McGregor and Rousey? Can they draw 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 big sale before his sabbatical. Whatever he decides to do will have a huge impact on the rest of the organization. Every top male boxer within realistic distance of his weight class is longing for a shot at him, knowing the only real fund is in a McGregor fight. Diaz, for example, remains on the sidelines since his 20 August rematch loss to McGregor, flouting at Whites offers of soldiers 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 longing for their McGregor chance as McGregor chases Mayweather money.

Meanwhile the UFC will put on a great prove Saturday night.

Is anyone paying attention?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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