While you were sleeping, UFC star Conor McGregor decided to stir the pot. In an announcement via Twitter, McGregor announced his retirement from MMA.
Conor announced the end of his run, “from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ today.” He also wished current fighters all the best while planning a drink with the current crop of retired fighters.
This is coming as a shock to many. McGregor (21-4) last fought at UFC 229, losing in a one-sided affair at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov. That was for the UFC Lightweight Championship. There was a post-fight brawl by both fighting camps that almost assured a rematch between the two down the line. Before then, McGregor became the first multi-weight champion by defeating Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez for both the UFC Lightweight and Featherweight Titles.
Between boxing Floyd Mayweather and announcing his retirement, McGregor has been busy. He has opened his own line of Whiskey, Proper No. Twelve. McGregor has also had a few brief run-ins with the law. “The Notorious One” caused a scene in Brooklyn prior to UFC 223 by throwing a dolly at a bus, and was just recently sued by a man for crushing his cellphone outside of a Miami club.
UFC President Dana White actually responded to McGregor’s retirement claims, adding on to a wild few hours for the MMA world. Via ESPN’s Brett Okamoto:
“He has the money to retire, and his whiskey is KILLIN it. If I was him, I would retire too,” White stated. “He’s retiring from fighting. Not from working. The Whiskey will keep him busy, and I’m sure he has other things he’s working on. He has been so fun to watch!!! He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the octagon as he was in it.”
How likely should we take this situation? If history was to tell us anything, don’t believe everything you see or hear. After all, Conor just went on The Tonight Show and told Jimmy Fallon that both sides (the UFC and McGregor) are working on a July fight.
While he is focusing on his Whiskey business, McGregor has also been posting workouts on his Instagram.
“We’re in talks for July,” McGregor stated to Fallon. “So we’ll see what happens. A lot of politics going on. the fight game is a mad game. But again, like I said, to my fans, I am in shape and I am ready.”
There were rumors of a Donald Cerrone / McGregor fight before that got scrapped for a “Cowboy” v. Al Iaquinta bout. Speaking to Barstool Sports’ Robbie Fox on his My Mom’s Basement podcast, Dana White stated McGregor rejected a co-main event offer. He also said a Nate Diaz trilogy fight seems unlikely before stating that McGregor will be back soon.
This is not the first time McGregor “retired” from the sport. Back around UFC 200, McGregor threatened to leave after the UFC pulled him for not willing to go on a UFC-mandated media tour.
What happened following McGregor’s initial retirement? He fought Nate Diaz in a rematch at UFC 202, beating him in a fight card that ended up getting 1.6 million PPV buys. Until the Khabib fight, that was the first on the all-time UFC PPV buy list.
At only 30, McGregor is one of the most influential figures in MMA today. He is also the most controversial, and a skilled master of manipulation. This brilliant tactic has worked once, and it continues to be a great ploy for everyone to talk about McGregor. If this is indeed true, McGregor will go down as one of the best to step inside the octagon.
At this point, anything is possible. As Conor has stated, the world of MMA is a wild game. Is he playing all of us?