MMA Retirement is usually not what it says. But former champ champ Conor McGregor has taken it to the next level.
In March of 2016, he retired in a dispute over traveling to a news conference for the Nate Diaz rematch; he returned and won. In April of 2019 he retired again, and returned in January, beating "Cowboy" Cerrone in 40 seconds, and announced he wanted two more fights in 2020. Then the novel coronavirus derailed that plan. And during the UFC 250 broadast, "The Notorious" has retired again.
Ariel Helwani and Marc Raimondi report for ESPN that McGregor's management has had extensive negotiations with the UFC about a fight in July, and that the issue isn't compensation, it's the opponent. McGregor has been vocal that he wants a fight vs. interim champion Justin Gaethje, with the winner getting a shot at division champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, the UFC is instead holding a title unification fight.
UFC president Dana White spoke with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto post UFC on ESPN 11, and was asked if he had any contact whatsoever with McGregor.
“No," replied White. "Conor McGregor is retired. ... I don't chase guys that don't want to fight. I don't chase guys. We offer guys three fights a year. You get three fights a year, if you don't want to fight, I've got a roster full of people who want to fight."
While White's remarks can be interpreted as a subtle challenge to McGregor to return. But White said before MayMac that given the amount of revenue McGregor will make (it was likely just a little shy of $100 million) he might never compete in the Octagon again. McGregor has fought twice since, making another fortune.
McGregor estimated, undoubtedly with some hyperbole, that the Nurmagomedov fight made him $50 million and the Cowboy fight $80 million. And McGregor claimed that his Proper No. 12 Irish whiskey did a billion in sales in the first year; again, add a grain of salt to that drink. A good rule of thumb in MMA is to cut the number in half, but even using that qualifier, McGregor has made hundreds of millions of dollars. So he will come back when he wants to, and he will likely want to. But don't be stunned if Conor McGregor never fights again.