This jab was a real blindside.
UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor shocked the mixed martial arts world on Tuesday after announcing in a Twitter post that he was retiring. The 27-year-old wrote that he had “decided to retire young,” leading many to wonder if this was a marketing ploy or something real.
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya's later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
The post put the status of his rematch fight with Nate Diaz in question—but UFC president Dana White quickly had some answers, as he appeared on ESPN Tuesday night and announced that McGregor would not be appearing in the upcoming UFC 200 event billed for July 9.
"We pulled Conor McGregor from UFC 200 and we're working on other fights right now. Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial and be a part of the marketing. He's in Iceland training,” White said on SportsCenter.
— UFC (@ufc) April 19, 2016
But even after all the sudden schedule changes, the question remains: Is McGregor actually retiring?
The Irishman has not followed up on his post confirming the news, but an Irish newspaper spoke to his father, who said that “the latest we've heard is that he has retired.” McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh also weighed in, albeit inconclusively:
Well was fun while it lasted
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) April 19, 2016
It's possible McGregor was trying to psych out Diaz months before their scheduled fight—but if he was, the move backfired. McGregor is one of the most marketable fighters that UFC has ever had, giving him considerable power, but White flexed his own muscle by pulling McGregor from the Diaz rematch. By removing McGregor from the fight, UFC once again took control of what would happen next.
The UFC may have been surprised at the move by McGregor, since the rematch was billed as one of the top events of the summer. The UFC featherweight champion is known for his outspokenness, and this move could be related to some of the reported contract issues he has had with the UFC.
There has also been speculation that McGregor was influenced by the death of fighter Joao Carvalho, who died 48 hours after a fight with Charlie Ward. McGregor was in attendance at the fight and wrote a post on Facebook one week after Carvalho’s death: “Terrible news regarding Joao Carvalho. To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life, and then to have it taken away is truly heartbreaking. We are just men and women doing something we love in the hope of a better life for ourselves and our families.”
For now at least, it appears that McGregor is retired. However, if he wants to get back into action, he has some other career options to consider:
— Becky Lynch (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 19, 2016