Several hours after Conor McGregor sent out a Tweet announcing his retirement, UFC president Dana White announced that the Crumlin man has been withdrawn from the main event of UFC 200 against Nate Diaz.
The announcement marked an unbelievable turn of events in a surreal day for UFC fans that had seen McGregor announce at 7.30pm yesterday evening that he had retired, writing on Twitter: “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya's later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
Because The Notorious had only arrived in Iceland on Monday for a training camp ahead of his planned big showdown with Diaz in July, many regarded the Tweet as a joke. When his coach John Kavanagh followed up with his “fun while it lasted” Tweet nobody was any the wiser.
Well was fun while it lasted
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) April 19, 2016
Then last night, around five hours after McGregor’s shock announcement, UFC President Dana White appeared on the TV show “SportsCenter”on ESPN and said McGregor had been pulled from the card for refusing to fly to Las Vegas to participate in a news conference as well as to take promotional photos.
“Well, what’s happened is, we’ve pulled Conor McGregor from UFC 200,” White said. “And we’re working on other fights right now. Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas this week to film the commercial or be a part of any of the marketing that we have. He’s in Iceland training and not participating in the marketing is not possible. This has only happened one other time in UFC history.
“Nick Diaz didn’t show up for his press conference for his fight with Georges St-Pierre and I pulled Nick Diaz from the fight. We’ve had other instances like this where guys didn’t want to do the press conference, [but] you have to. You have to do the press conference, so Conor put out that tweet. Is Conor McGregor retiring? Only he could answer that question.”
Whether this marks a serious rift in the relationship between UFC officials and McGregor remains to be seen. But White attempted to downplay that in his brief appearance on ESPN.
“Obviously, we still have a good relationship with Conor,” White said. “I respect Conor as a fighter and I like him as a person. But you can’t decide not to show up to these things. You have to do it. We were in constant communication back and forth between his manager and myself. I said, ‘Listen, I’m flying out of here at 2 o’clock. You have until 2 o’clock. We’re booking the flight for you and you have to say you’re accepting the fight and you’ll show up [in Las Vegas this week for the promotional activities.’ “
From McGregor’s point of view, the rematch with Nate Diaz that was supposed to be the main event of UFC 200, the summer’s blockbuster card on July 9 at the new T-Mobile Arena, is the biggest of his career.
He has done a enormous amount of work in the last year promoting the hugely successful UFC 189, UFC 194 and UFC 196, as well as being a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and he probably feels he’s done enough marketing work for the organisation.
He is training in Iceland, which means that to get to Las Vegas he’d have to fly six hours from Reykjavik to New York and then another five-plus hours from New York to Las Vegas making for a 20-plus hour trip plus the return trip.
So what next for UFC 200? Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier II could come in for the main event if Jones beats Ovince Saint Preux on Saturday. A possibility for Diaz would be a welterweight title fight against Robbie Lawler.
If that were to happen the main card would be Jones-Cormier II, Diaz-Lawler, Jose Aldo-Frankie Edgar II, Miesha Tate-Amanda Nunes and Cain Velasquez-Travis Browne.
I’m fairly sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Conor McGregor however…