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UFC boss claims only Muhammad Ali can match McGregor for 'mental warfare'

Dana White in hyperbole shocker.

UFC president Dana White separates Conor McGregor and Diego Brandao at the weigh-ins ahead of their fight last year.
UFC president Dana White separates Conor McGregor and Diego Brandao at the weigh-ins ahead of their fight last year.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

HE CAN’T BE regarded as one of MMA’s all-time greats when it comes to fighting just yet, but Dana White believes Conor McGregor has already mastered the art of “the fight that comes before the fight”.

White told Yahoo’s Kevin Iole that when it comes to playing mind games with his opponents, McGregor is the best in the business. The UFC president even went as far as to compare the Irish star’s “mental warfare” skills to Muhammad Ali’s.

McGregor, the UFC’s interim featherweight champion, faces reigning 145lbs title-holder Jose Aldo next weekend in a championship unification bout at UFC 194 in Las Vegas.

“It’s too early to tell if Conor is one of the greatest fighters ever, though we’re getting close [to being able to tell]. A win over Jose Aldo would get him going in the right direction, obviously,” White said.

“But I can tell you this, without reservation: He is the greatest mental warfare fighter I have ever met. Ever. The best. He doesn’t just fuck with the guys he’s going to fight. He fucks with everybody.”

White referred to McGregor’s description of the UFC’s lightweight division — which the Dubliner is expected to move up to in 2016 — as ‘the stuck-in-the-mud division’.

“He’ll talk about how fast everyone is at 145lbs and these guys are stuck in the mud [at lightweight], and all of a sudden, those guys start thinking, ‘What the fuck? Am I slow? Can I hang with this guy?’ And that’s just the beginning. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone better at mental warfare than him.”

Ali Frazier 1974 Muhammad Ali in action against Joe Frazier in 1974. Source: AP/Press Association Images

White added: “I know it’s sacrilege to compare anybody to Muhammad Ali in anything in the fight business. You don’t ever want to be comparing people to Muhammad Ali, but he’s the only one who comes to mind when it comes to the mental warfare that Conor wages.

“But think about it: When you think of the mental game, and the fight that comes before the fight, you think of Conor McGregor and Muhammad Ali.”

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Paul Dollery

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