While Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor were trading verbal barbs in 2016, Dana White spent most of that year throwing cold water on the idea that the two superstars might actually get into the ring.
The UFC president, whose company has McGregor under contract, subsequently began negotiating with Mayweather's camp, but in comments Tuesday, White indicated that the reason he kept saying the fight wouldn't happen was because he knew how difficult it would be to agree on terms.
"I knew this was going to be a nightmare to get done," White told FS1's Colin Cowherd, "if it can even be done." He denied that an agreement on Mayweather-McGregor was "getting close."
"Obviously, both guys want to fight each other, but you know, what's the deal?" White said.
"Can the deal be done? That's the question."
Cowherd had wondered whether Mayweather and McGregor were nearing agreement because of comments White had made after Saturday's Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bout. Immediately after Alvarez defeated Chavez, he was joined in the ring by Gennady Golovkin for an announcement that they would fight each other Sept. 16.
That prompted White to bemoan that he had lost that date for a possible Mayweather-McGregor matchup. However, the UFC president responded to Cowherd's suggestion that he was tiring of Mayweather's "crap" by saying, "It's definitely both sides. It's not just Mayweather, it's both sides of this thing are going to be hard to get done."
"Absolutely, there's going to be a point where I'm done," White added. "This isn't what I do, this isn't my business, and I'm definitely going to walk away."
Meanwhile, former boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya, who now promotes Alvarez, appeared on ESPN to make a public suggestion to Mayweather: Never mind McGregor - come out of retirement to fight the Canelo-GGG winner!
"Forget about 'The Notorious One,' forget about a fighter who has zero experience, who has zero fights, who has zero amateur experience. Forget about that," De La Hoya said Tuesday on ESPN's "First Take," adding, "Mayweather's better than that.
"Mayweather, if you want to fight or have a rematch against Canelo, or a fight against Golovkin, go after them. After Canelo and Golovkin fight, go after the winner."
As De La Hoya indicated, Mayweather has already fought Alvarez, winning a majority decision in 2013. Alvarez was just 23 at the time, and Mayweather, with a 49-0 record on the line, may not want to take on a stronger, more experienced version of the Mexican fighter.
By the same token, Mayweather, who has been cautious in choosing his opponents, could well want no part of Golovkin, who has 33 knockouts in 37 fights. In that light, McGregor's complete lack of experience in sanctioned boxing matches could be attractive.
In addition, Mayweather's main motivation for coming out of retirement, as repeatedly stated, is to make at least $100 million, and he likely sees McGregor as having achieved enough international renown to deliver that payday. The problem is that the UFC champion also wants that kind of money, while Mayweather prefers their respective purses to reflect his perceived status at the "A side" in the matchup.
"I know that these two guys want to fight," White told Cowherd. "I've said many times that I respect Conor, and I'd like to this fight for him, but it's got to be the right deal. We have to get the right deal done, or it's not going to happen."