Dana White believes ‘the real’ Conor McGregor is back, with the Irishman bombarding the UFC president about his upcoming bout.

McGregor returns to action for the first time in 12 months on January 23, when he faces off against Dustin Poirier in the headline event of UFC 257.

The Notorious knocked out Poirier in 2014 and is looking for another win to put himself firmly back in the hunt for the lightweight belt.

The bout will be McGregor’s first since beating Donald Cerrone in the first round at the start of January 2020.

Conor McGregor stepped away from UFC for good after his victory over Donald Cerrone in January
Conor McGregor stepped away from UFC for good after his victory over Donald Cerrone in January

Since then, he has spent a year on the sidelines, even announcing a retirement in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

But White, speaking to ESPN, believes the two-weight world champion has his old focus back and is showing the kind of hunger that made him the biggest star in the history of the sport.

He said: "The questions are always, 'This guy is so rich, how hungry is he?

"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.

Dana White believes McGregor is showing the hunger that made him a champion

"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.

"He's hitting me up and asking me questions about the layout of the arena, the walk-in, all these types of things that he's interested in knowing about right now; he's all in on this thing."

Despite being out of action for a year, McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh believes he is in peak physical condition.

Conor McGregor has made a late UFC training camp change as he has a future fight plan in mind
Conor McGregor is looking lean and mean ahead of his bout with Poirier

Speaking to YouTube channel TheMacLife last month, he said: “I just think you have to look at his physical appearance for a start.

“We actually came across a video of him from after the first Diaz fight, however long ago that was.

“He’s almost unrecognisable looking at the difference between the fights.

“He’s really developed as a professional athlete and at 32, he’s entering his physical and mental prime. So we’re in for some good times.”