Dana White discussed the futures of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and rising Australian star Robert Whittaker in a wide-ranging interview with news.com.au.

Speaking in the bowels of New York's Madison Square Garden minutes before taking the stage for the final press conference ahead of this Sunday's UFC 217, the 48-year-old provided the latest news on all the biggest names in mixed martial arts.

The biggest of all is McGregor, who has opened negotiations with White about his first defence of the lightweight belt against interim champ Tony Ferguson.

McGregor is angling for an unprecedented equity stake in the UFC, or as he calls it becoming a "true partner" of the company, as discussions begin.


White didn't specifically address that demand but is confident an agreement will be reached soon for the return of the Irishman, whose last appearance in the Octagon was almost 12 months ago.

"Conor is very funny, exciting, opinionated... but we've always been able to get deals done with Conor," White told news.com.au.

"At the end of the day, Conor is a good guy, he's a loyal guy and we've always been good to him.

"Every time we felt like he was stepping up to another level, we did the same and took care of him in that way. If anyone deserves this type of money, it's Conor."

White's second biggest star, Rousey, has also been absent for all of 2017. The former women's bantamweight champion has dipped her toes in professional wrestling but is yet to formally announce her retirement from MMA.

White is still in the dark about whether Rousey will fight again but revealed she was keeping the door open by continuing to volunteer to be part of the USADA testing program.

"Ronda's still in the USADA program, still getting tested like crazy - and wants to be there," he said.

Whittaker, who became the first Australian to win a UFC belt after claiming the interim middleweight championship earlier this year, is also in New York as he waits to find his next opponent.

That appeared to be a date with the winner of Sunday's title fight between champion Michael Bisping and returning legend Georges St Pierre - potentially headlining the recently-announced pay-per-view card in Perth on February 11 - but White hasn't locked anything in yet.

If the Bisping-GSP winner was to agree to come to fight Whittaker in Australia they'd have just three months to prepare.

"It is a quick turnaround and it does depend on how this fight goes and how banged up the guys are after this fight," White said.

"But we're not banking on that. We're not banking on it being one of those guys. Bisping has had knee injuries for a while... we'll see."

There's a slight possibility both Bisping, 38, and St Pierre, 36, retire after Sunday's fight, which would likely see Whittaker face the next highest-ranked contender, currently former champion Luke Rockhold. Asked about that prospect, White said: "Anything is possible."

As for White himself, he has no plans to leave the company he sold for $4 billion last year.

"I'm not going anywhere anytime soon," he said.

"This is what I love to do. I'm actually doing a lot of construction at the new building (in Las Vegas), I'm building a bunch of stuff over there. I said it before and I'll say it again, I'm digging in like a tick. I'm not going anywhere."