Dana White: Conor McGregor at Muhammad Ali’s level when it comes to ‘mental warfare’

Conor McGregor shares at least one trait with “The Greatest,” according to Dana White.

The UFC CEO was a guest on the Flagrant podcast where he covered a number of topics, including questions about McGregor’s outside-the-cage behavior. McGregor was recently seen partying hard ahead of his comeback fight against Michel Chandler, which is scheduled for UFC 303 on June 29 in Las Vegas, and White was asked if he is concerned about McGregor’s focus and level of preparation.

While White couldn’t speak to McGregor’s exact mental state (it should be noted this podcast was recorded prior to McGregor recently canceling a press conference appearance in Dublin, Ireland), he believes there’s a chance that everyone is seeing what McGregor wants them to see. White went as far as to say that the UFC star’s antics reminded him of one of the most popular athletes in history, boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

“I will tell you this and I don’t ever like to compare people to Muhammad Ali because to me he’s the f*cking, you know, and f*ck what he did in fighting, just as a human, what that guy accomplished,” White said. “But I don’t give a f*ck what anybody says: Ali, Conor, both level when it comes to mental warfare. The two best of all time when it comes to mental warfare.”

During McGregor’s rise as a two-division UFC champion and global supetstar, he developed a reputation for delivering on the mic as much as he did on fight night. Memorable wins over Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez, and Nate Diaz were preceded by some of the most talked-about pre-fight builds in MMA history, which led to enormous success for McGregor and the UFC.

Ali is widely hailed as one of the best and most revered heavyweight boxers ever, and his virtuoso promo and interview style was the precursor to how McGregor and many modern fighters build their feuds today. In White’s eyes, the two combat sports stars are at the same level when it comes to getting inside their opponents’ heads.

“If you look back at Ali and you look at what he did to George Foreman in Africa, you look at what he did to Joe Frazier, I mean, throughout his entire f*cking career,” White said. “Joe Frazier f*cking hated Muhammad Ali so f*cking badly. He’d show up at his camp outside and f*cking do all this shit, he would predict rounds, he would come up with f*cking incredible poems and sayings and things that he would do leading up to the fight.

“Then you look at Conor McGregor. He’s picked rounds. The mental warfare that this guy had on so many of his fighters. A hundred percent [McGregor got in Jose Aldo’s head], and he would make these guys play into his game, get into their heads, f*cking embarrass them, and outwit them in every way, shape, and form. The Eddie Alvarez fight going into Madison Square Garden. He is literally at Ali’s level when it came to mental warfare.”

McGregor is also well-known for his wild lifestyle, which has led to legal repercussions as well as questions about his dedication to fighting. Since beating Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016 to become a two-division champion, McGregor has competed just four times in MMA along with one high-profile crossover boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr.. Those outings ultimately yielded just one victory.

As it stands, White is treating any in-cage appearance from McGregor as a luxury.

“I’m in a place right now with the Conor McGregors and the Jon Jones’ where they’ve sort of laid the foundation of their legacy and what they have and they’ve made a shitload of money,” White said. “It’s at the point now where when these guys do show up and fight, it’s fun. It’s fun when they show up and fight.”

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