UFC superstar Conor McGregor caused a storm of speculation on social media after sending out a somewhat ambiguous tweet Tuesday.
Later in the day, UFC president Dana White announced on ESPN that McGregor has been pulled from UFC 200 because he refused to appear at a press conference in Las Vegas to promote it.
“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.”
The UFC released the following statement:
“UFC President Dana White announced Tuesday that UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has been pulled from his UFC 200 main event against Nate Diaz on July 9.
White revealed that the decision was made by the promotion after McGregor informed UFC officials that he would not participate in any promotional activities, including a commercial shoot and press conferences.
The UFC is currently working on a new main event for the card, which will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Other bouts currently set for the event include two title fights, with Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar battling for the interim featherweight title, and Miesha Tate defending her UFC women’s bantamweight crown against Amanda Nunes.”
It remains unclear if the sentiment of McGregor’s retirement tweet is genuine or if it was meant as some type of publicity stunt — the man does have an affinity for attracting attention after all — or potentially a ploy to receive a bigger payday at UFC 200.
McGregor and the UFC’s top brass have butted heads in the past during contract negotiations and some reports suggest that’s what this is — both sides playing hardball.
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, sent out the following tweet that fuelled the speculation that McGregor is in fact serious about stepping away from the sport.
McGregor’s fight with Diaz was an anticipated rematch of March’s UFC 196 main event in which Diaz submitted McGregor.
The quick-witted Irishman became the UFC’s 145-pound featherweight champion after he knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194 in December. He was aiming to win the 155-pound lightweight belt and become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously, however Rafael dos Anjos withdrew from the bout with an injury and that’s when his short-notice fight with Diaz came together.
Not surprisingly, Diaz and Dos Anjos chimed in on Twitter.
I guess my work here is done I’m retiring too️
All throughout Tuesday rumours swirled as to why McGregor might be choosing to retire so suddenly. While not all details have been made public, one theory was that he was deeply affected by the recent death of a mixed martial artist named Joao Carvalho, who succumbed to injuries sustained in a fight in Ireland. Carvalho was TKO’d in the third round of a fight with McGregor’s teammate Charlie Ward at a Total Extreme Fighting event earlier this month.
McGregor, who was cageside for that fight, released the following statement after the news of Carvalho’s death.