So at 1:18am Eastern Standard Time Conor Anthony McGregor “broke the internet” with this tweet, his second of such a message. Remember, almost three years ago he dropped a very similar bombshell.
So is that it? Is “The Notorious” done fighting? It wouldn’t not make sense. He’s made boatloads of money and turned himself into an international brand in the process. If he is smart in his business ventures, which he seems to be, he can continue to grow his vast fortune without getting punched in the face.
But that’s where people get it a little twisted. You see, not many people enter a career where their source of income is to get punched in the face unless they enjoy the carnage, competition, and blast of adrenaline that comes with it. Sure, there are the Derrick Lewis-types who just have big, heavy hands, and see fighting as a much more lucrative alternative to changing tires. But for a lot of fighters, McGregor included, this is in their blood. Especially when, although he now has financial pursuits outside of the cage, he indeed can still make a hell of lot inside of it too.
Conor McGregor is not done fighting. It just isn’t in the cards, yet.
So what is he on about here? Why is he dropping this and what is he trying to accomplish? Well, I think the first question is simple enough to answer and the second could have a few possible explanations.
The problem with Conor the Fighter now is that the illusion of Conor the Fighter is gone. He was a Goddam world beater. For a time he was unstoppable. Mystic Mac. He knocked out one of the most dominant fighters of his generation in Jose Aldo, and he did it in mere seconds. But then came Chad Mendes, and some holes were exposed in an eventual victory. Then came Nate Diaz, and he got beat. Then came Nate Diaz again, and he slinked by. Then came Khabib Nurmagodmedov and he got steamrolled. So instead of being a Demigod with two belts Conor McGregor is now a very talented, ultra charismatic lightweight with no belts. It is to the point where Dana White did not want McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone, a very popular fighter in his own right, to headline an event. Coming off a loss and without a belt McGregor may just have not been that kind of draw anymore.
So to answer the first question of “why?”, he is quite literally leaving us wanting more. He wants the fans and media to remember the good times and beg for him back. And when he does come back it will be with a heroes welcome and a roar of the crowd. He may have even seen the reaction to Gronk’s recent retirement and said, “hey, look at that.”
But what is his end game? Ultimately what does he seek in his return? Well, there’s a few possibilities.
1.) He wants a share in the UFC
Conor said, I’m pretty sure last week, that he really doesn’t care if he fights in the ME or on the pre-lims as long as he is paid what he is worth, which includes a partnership in the company. It makes sense in a way. Even if he is not the ME, a large number of those PPV buys will be for Conor McGregor, so he should get a cut of that. But this scenario is simply not going to happen in my opinion. For Dana White, this would just open way too much of a floodgate.
2.) He is luring out Nate Diaz
Even though Diaz vs. McGregor III would be the most financially lucrative fight for both men right now, Diaz has actually sounded like he is not as interested as of late. He tweeted/IG’d out something recently that he beat Conor’s ass twice already and that Dustin Poirier was, in fact, a pussy (Remember Poirier dropped out of a recent Diaz-Poirier match up. Beyond that I am not sure why he was caught in Nate’s cross-hairs. O well). So maybe Conor is walking away to get Nate’s attention? Maybe this sets off a patented Diaz social media attack and gets the fighters, the fans, the media, and the UFC bought into this third match up? It wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world and one that comes with a big pay day.
3.) He is taking a page out of Nate Diaz’s book and simply shelving himself until they desperately need him to save a card
This is 100% what Nate Diaz is doing by the way. The nixed Poirier fight aside, Nate Diaz is keeping in shape, talking some occasional shit, and waiting for a main or co-main to fall through on short notice so that the UFC needs a big name to save it and is willing to cut a big check to get them to do so. To that end, Conor is kind of back-dooring his old nemesis here. 9/10 if the 155lb division needs someone to step in the Irishman would be the first choice. Not always, however. If the Fight Gods smile on the upcoming Poirier-Holloway Interim Lightweight Title Fight in April, then the winner ostensibly fights Khabib when he returns in the fall for the real belt. This is a huge if by the way as both fighters have pulled out of past fights. Anyway, should Dagestan’s favorite son’s challenger fall out of the unification bout, I can’t see them giving Conor another crack after the mauling he took. Not before he wins again. So Nate could get that fight, although his dormancy is becoming more and more of an issue.
But that fight itself? Poirier-Holloway? Giving one of those guys a rematch against the phenom who slowed their ascent when they wore a younger man’s clothes? Sure. What about the Iaquinta-Cerrone fight? Imagine Conor saying “fuck it” and fighting on a Fox card to earn his possible, eventual rematch with Khabib?
Whichever way you spin it, I see either reason 2 or 3 as the most plausible for McGregor’s random tweet. Sure, he could have accomplished either end without tweeting out his retirement but this makes it all that much more dramatic.
If Jordan never came back with the 45, would it have been such a come back?