With UFC 257 little over a week away, anticipation is ramping up as the first UFC pay-per-view event of 2021 sees the return of Conor McGregor.

McGregor, who will be facing former interim UFC lightweight champ Dustin Poirier in a rematch in the night’s main event, didn’t enjoy 2020 like so many others.

Things started so well for the Irishman last year. He knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a fashion that was as devastating as it was quick and that was meant to be the start of what he called a “season” – treating 2020 as a year with plenty of fights to look forward to like the football calendar.

However, the pandemic hit and that left the frustrated Irishman on the sidelines. McGregor’s inactivity ate away at “The Notorious” and that did some damage to the relationship between the Dubliner and Dana White as the former campaigned to get back in the Octagon. Part of said campaign saw McGregor publish private messages between him and White – messages which wasn’t particularly glowing about fighter Diego Sanchez. This was something the UFC President later called “one of the dirtiest things you can do.”

In the lead up to UFC 257, White spoke to ESPN and mentioned how the pair have mended their relationship as they get back to business together later in January.

“We were in a really bad place then, I was really upset,” White said. “It wasn’t because he put out private messages. We were talking about another fighter. And I like Diego Sanchez. I have a lot of respect for Diego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. I talked to Diego face-to-face about it, and being the great human being he is, we’re all good.

“I was really upset with Conor, but we fixed that and now we’re all good.”

McGregor’s motivation for fighting has come into question over the last few years as his Octagon activity slowed. The Cerrone comeback contest saw The Notorious look determined to get back to his best in the UFC ranks and White indicates the old McGregor is most definitely back and seems hungrier than ever.

“There’s nothing more exciting or fun than a motivated Conor McGregor, when his head is in the right place. And you can tell when he is and when he isn’t, and right now, he’s in. My conversations with Conor, I know when the real Conor is here and the other Conor is here, and believe me when I tell you, the real Conor is here.

“If something happened to Dustin Poirier, he is the Conor McGregor right now that doesn’t give a s**t who we put in that fight. He’s going to be, ‘Who’s ready? Who you got? I’m going to the gym, tell me who’s showing up on Saturday.’ He’s that guy right now. That Conor McGregor is back.”