Conor McGregor Reveals UFC Exit Plan, Talks Donald Cerrone, Dana White, More

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 20:  Conor McGregor of Ireland interacts with he crowd during the UFC 197 on-sale press conference event inside MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on January 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Conor McGregor has brazenly claimed he’ll set the UFC alight and then walk away from the sport.

Speaking in an interview with Severe MMA, the Irishman spoke candidly about a plethora of topics, including his upcoming bout with lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, where he’ll be seeking to become the first fighter in the brand’s history to hold two belts from different weight classes concurrently.

But McGregor, who holds the featherweight strap, also has eyes for Robbie Lawler's welterweight title. And once he feels he's achieved all he can, he'll leave the Octagon behind, per Rory Brigstock-Barron of the MailOnline:

I'm coming for that belt, I'm coming for the next belt, I'm coming for the whole company. 

Why not go up [in weight]? They get slower, and they get less free up there, they are stiffer, they are even more stuck than the lightweight division. So I'll keep going, keep eating, keep training and keep going until all the belts are wrapped up.

I'm here to fight, I'm here to win every belt and then I'm gone and then I'll see the game later, I'll walk away from this game, I'll set it ablaze and walk away. And that's it.

Here’s a look at the interview in full. *Warning, video contains NSFW language*:

Many feel as though Dos Anjos will be too much for McGregor, especially after a succession of impressive recent displays.

The Brazilian has won his last five fights in succession, beating the likes of Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis. But his win over Donald Cerrone, the bout that paved the way for the showdown with McGregor, was his most comprehensive performance to date, finished in the opening round.

However, McGregor lambasted Cerrone—who is set to fight Alex Oliveira this weekend—insisting he could have done more on the night:

Cerrone p--sied out on him, big time. That’s why he can fight again this weekend. Ask [Jose] Aldo can he fight again this weekend, he cannot fight. When you win by KO, by stoppage, by a true stoppage, you put your opponent out of action for 10 months to a year. 

He quit in there inside that opening round. That’s why he can go now next week and he can say ‘ah, I fight every week’ and this and that. But you can fight every week if you go in and quit! If you’re willing to die in there, you can’t have them turnarounds.

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 19:   (L-R) Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone face off before their UFC lightweight title bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Amway Center on December 19, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LL
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

McGregor feels the company is rife with competitors who don’t relish the actual fighting side of the sport:

How many times have you seen a champion instantly go up [in weight]? How many years have you heard about superfights, this and that, and then nothing? How many times have you heard about little sore toe and an opponent bolts? There’s p--sies everywhere in this game. I’m here to fight, I’m here to win every belt.

McGregor has grown into a worldwide sporting superstar after a stellar 2015, in which he knocked out two legends of the featherweight division in Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo.

His last fight against Aldo, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was one of the most lucrative in the sport’s history and, given the momentum behind him at the moment, it’s an illustrious venue that he could continue to sell out. However, the Irishman claimed he’s keen on making things a bit easier for his fans travelling from Ireland in the future.

McGregor wants to make fight venues more accessible for his Irish fans.
McGregor wants to make fight venues more accessible for his Irish fans.Steve Marcus/Getty Images

When asked about the travelling his fans have to do, McGregor said:

F--k Vegas, f--k Vegas seriously. I want the east coast next, if they don’t give me Ireland give me east coast next; I’d go back to Boston, I know they’re lobbying for New York... I’d go back to the O2 or the Three Arena [in Dublin] no problem, or to the Point [Theatre]… I haven’t outgrown my home f--king town.

The Irishman was asked about rumours suggesting he may be seeking to start his own promotions company in the future. But he was adamant that he has a strong relationship with the top dogs in the UFC, insisting he has "much respect" for president Dana White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, per Ryan McKinnell of Yahoo:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m climbing that corporate ladder every damn day. And we will be neck and neck. Maybe somewhere along the way I will take that lion’s share. But we will always be together.

I’m not trying to break out, I’m just trying to grow, be eye to eye, and get my share of the f--king pie. And they know that. I said that straight off the bat. But I will always be in association with ZUFFA. It’s an honour to grow with this company.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11:  UFC President Dana White (R) speaks with UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor during the UFC 189 post fight press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

McGregor’s ambition is refreshing, and as he notes, there are not many figures in the sport who have sought to conquer so much at such a rapid pace. Dos Anjos may well prove to be his downfall at UFC 196, but it’s tough not to believe the Irishman’s bullish claims, as he’s delivered on them emphatically previously.

Of course, the UFC would love to make Las Vegas McGregor’s second home, as it’s the most lucrative fighting venue on the planet. But the prospect of thousands of Dubliners roaring on this great champion is surely something that resonates and clearly something the Irishman himself longs for. And typically, whatever McGregor wants, he goes out and gets it.