UFC president Dana White has responded to growing speculation over a shock temporary switch to mixed martial arts for Floyd Mayweather Jr by insisting that the only way it makes sense for the retired boxer and Conor McGregor to go head-to-head once again is if he transfers to the Octagon.
Mayweather stopped UFC kingpin McGregor in the 10th round of an eye-wateringly lucrative boxing bout in Las Vegas in August 2017 and talk of a possible rematch to ''The Money Fight' has predictably bubbled away ever since.
The former five-weight world champion has evidently enjoyed fanning the flames over recent weeks, posting a picture and a cryptic pair of videos on social media in which he is seen stalking around the Octagon before saying to the camera: "2018, Floyd Money Mayweather, MMA - what are the odds [bookmaker] Paddy [Power], what are the odds?"
Such a stunt achieved its intended goal of sending fans and certain media outlets into a frenzy and rumours have continued to circulate this week, with respected Telegraph boxing and MMA writer Gareth A Davies telling talkSPORT on Wednesday (7 February) that there were "a lot of talks going on in the background" around Mayweather's people regarding the possibility of a rematch on unfamiliar territory.
"I think it's going to happen and I think it will be a three, four, five hundred million dollar fight again," he said.
White was asked about that aforementioned video during an interview with UFC Tonight crew Kenny Florian and Michael Bisping on Fox Sports and stressed that a second clash between arguably the two biggest names in combat sports surely had to be be under MMA rules.
"Floyd said leading up to the fight with Conor that he would do both, so we'll see what happens," he said. "The only way making that fight again makes any sense is if he comes into the Octagon.
"We went over and boxed him, the UFC and Conor McGregor, and now it's time for him to reciprocate and come fight in the Octagon."
Mayweather retired for the second time after his initial victory over McGregor, while the brash Dubliner has yet to make his long-awaited return to the UFC. Other possible candidates for a first comeback fight include Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov and arch-nemesis Nate Diaz.
Addressing more pressing topics, White confirmed that Cris Cyborg's second featherweight title defence against Yana Kunitskaya would now headline UFC 222 at the T-Mobile Arena on 3 March after the proposed men's featherweight championship showdown between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar had to be scrapped for the second time after the Hawaiian suffered a leg injury.
Edgar will now take on third-ranked contender Brian Ortega - and not Cody Garbrandt - instead in the co-main event. Plans to tee up an exciting UFC 217 rematch between Garbrandt and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw never came to fruition.