Just days after suggesting he was ready to hang up his gloves, Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight champion Conor McGregor has announced he has not retired, saying he’s ready to fight at UFC 200.
In a lengthy post published to his official Facebook page, The Notorious explained he had become “lost” in the sport’s promotional duties and forgotten about the art of fighting. He then signed off with “I am not retired”:
UFC president Dana White pulled McGregor from the UFC 200 card on Tuesday because he wouldn’t promote the fight, just hours following a tweet in which McGregor said he was ready to “retire young.”
McGregor’s latest comments validate speculation he was indeed unhappy with the hectic schedule of training for a rematch against Nate Diaz—who handed him his first UFC defeat in March—and promoting the bout as desired.
John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, likened his pupil’s statement on Thursday to bible verse:
The Dubliner may see his help in promoting the UFC as reason enough to justify reinstating him on the UFC 200 card—$400 million worth of help, to be exact—but it appears there are deeper issues that need resolving.
UFC President Dana White previously addressed the notion of McGregor returning to the UFC 200 card for a rematch against Diaz. He appeared on Fox’s UFC Tonight on Wednesday and said the window for that was “pretty much closed,” (h/t Yahoo’s Andreas Hale):
It isn’t about whether or not Conor McGregor is fighting at UFC 200 because it’s been announced that he’s not fighting. The big question is if he’s retired because if he is, that belt is vacant and they will fight for the title.
Friday is not the first day of promotion. All of the fighters are here right now. Ten million dollars is going to be spent on promotion and the commercial alone is going to cost $1 million. He’s already missing stuff so the window is pretty much closed.
Part and parcel with becoming one of the biggest combat sport athletes on the planet is that one’s responsibilities and obligations tend to grow in kind with their bank balance. As McGregor becomes a bigger star in the UFC and makes more money with the promotion, he may be asked to do more in his role.
White also appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd and insisted he was “not mad even a little bit” after being forced to take action and remove McGregor from the July 9 date in Las Vegas:
Questions will now turn to where the two parties go from here and whether the UFC would be willing to put McGregor back up for the Diaz fight as scheduled, including what that entails in regard to his promotion work.
It doesn’t appear as though the UFC is willing to bend in terms of what it demands of its fighters in regards to contract obligations. Chamatkar Sandhu of MMA Junkie said this would represent a major shift in power balance if the UFC did give McGregor any kind of special treatment:
On the other hand, if the UFC sticks to its guns and appoints a replacement to fight Diaz, McGregor will have a long wait before his next bout, scheduled to be a featherweight title defence against either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar.
One thing for certain is McGregor’s time in mixed martial arts, and indeed the UFC, has not reached the premature end many feared it had.