Featherweight champion Conor McGregor (pictured) might be the UFC’s biggest cash cow, but UFC president Dana White proved Tuesday that he’s not the big cheese.
McGregor shocked the MMA world yesterday when he unexpectedly retired from mixed martial arts at the age of 27. McGregor made the cryptic announcement via Twitter, so there was no explanation as to why someone who went from being financially supported by Ireland’s welfare system prior to joining the UFC in 2013 to supposedly “breezing past $10 million” in March’s fight against Nate Diaz decided to walk away from MMA prior to entering the prime of his career.
UFC president Dana White, who fans have accused of favoring McGregor for the past two years, was more than happy to shed light on McGregor’s unexpected decision to “retire.”
“Conor didn’t want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial or be a part of the marketing that we have. He’s in Iceland training, and it’s not possible,” White said on Tuesday’s edition of ESPN’s SportsCenter. “We’ve had other instances like this where fighters didn’t want to do the press conferences. You have to. You have to do the press conference. So Conor put out that tweet. Is Conor McGregor retiring? Only he can answer that question. I don’t know, but he’s not fighting at UFC 200.
“He didn’t want to [come to Vegas for the press conference]. He’s in Iceland training and he felt that leaving right now would hurt his training in getting ready for this fight, but every other fighter on this card is coming. I get accused of coddling Conor all the time, but at the end of the day I respect Conor … but it doesn’t make you exempt for the press conference and all the promotional stuff that we have to do. We spent a lot of money on this stuff and you have to do it. It’s mandatory. You can’t decide just to not show up do these things. You have to do it.”
Sure, there are rumors that McGregor’s true conflict with the UFC is about money and not shooting promos to hype his rematch with Diaz. But since Mystic Mac has been radio silent since his mysterious tweet, for now we can only go off White’s word (whatever that’s worth).
Before getting upset by Diaz at UFC 196, McGregor claimed to be a “partner” with the UFC. McGregor’s star power got so big that there was talk he could start his own MMA promotion in order to co-promote his fights alongside the UFC, a la Floyd Mayweather in boxing.
Now McGregor, along with every other athlete on the UFC roster, knows that he’s far from a partner and merely a pawn. As box office as McGregor is, his name can be replaced on the marquee. It’s not as though White pulled McGregor from a preliminary card bout streaming on UFC Fight Pass, White yanked him from the main event of their historic UFC 200 pay-per-view extravaganza.
“Notorious” thought he was above the UFC’s rules and wanted to stay in Iceland to train, so White froze him out. McGregor was getting too big for his britches, so White had to put him back in his place. Or as the youngsters like to say, McGregor tried White and got punked.
Is McGregor REALLY retired? Everyone from his camp is presently indicating yes, but it’s hard to believe that someone who loves money as much as McGregor would walk away from tens of millions of dollars (UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta claimed in December that McGregor is on track to become MMA’s first $100 million man) – especially at the rate McGregor appears to be burning through the millions he’s already earned.
Not long ago, White and McGregor seemed to be BFFs. McGregor now knows they weren’t besties because nothing trumps business. If this was a pissing contest, regardless if it was about money or promos, White won. White always wins, and now McGregor knows that.
Sit back down, Conor. Who do you think you are, Ronda Rousey?