Just days after suggesting he was ready to hang up his gloves, UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor has announced he has not retired, saying he's ready to fight at UFC 200 on July 9.
In a lengthy post on his official Facebook page, The Notorious explained he had become "lost" in the sport's promotional duties and forgotten about the art of fighting. He then signed off with "I am not retired":
UFC President Dana White pulled McGregor from the UFC 200 card on Tuesday because he wouldn't promote the fight, just hours following a tweet in which McGregor said he was ready to "retire young":
TMZ Sports reported the news following McGregor's announcement and said that according to its sources, "besides the massive payday, the UFC told Conor it was willing to move mountains to accommodate the fighter during the UFC 200 media tour." McGregor was slated to earn $10 million for the rematch with Nate Diaz.
That along with McGregor's latest comments validate speculation he was indeed unhappy with the hectic schedule of training for a rematch against Diaz—who handed him his first UFC defeat in March—and promoting the bout as desired.
John Kavanagh, McGregor's coach, likened his pupil's statement on Thursday to bible verse:
The Dubliner may see his help in promoting the UFC as reason enough to justify reinstatement on the UFC 200 card—$400 million worth of help, to be exact—but it appears there are deeper issues that need to be resolved.
White appeared on Fox's UFC Tonight on Wednesday and addressed the notion of McGregor's return to the UFC 200 card for a rematch against Diaz, and he said the window for that was "pretty much closed" (h/t Yahoo's Andreas Hale):
It isn’t about whether or not Conor McGregor is fighting at UFC 200 because it’s been announced that he’s not fighting. The big question is if he’s retired because if he is, that belt is vacant and they will fight for the title. ...
... Friday is not the first day of promotion. All of the fighters are here right now. Ten million dollars is going to be spent on promotion and the commercial alone is going to cost $1 million. He’s already missing stuff so the window is pretty much closed.
White also appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd and insisted he was "not mad even a little bit" after being forced to take action and remove McGregor from the July 9 date in Las Vegas:
Questions will now turn to where the two parties go from here and whether there's any way the UFC would be willing to put McGregor back up for the Diaz fight as scheduled, including what that entails in regard to his promotional work.
It doesn't appear as though the UFC is willing to bend in its demands as outlined in fighters' contract obligations. Chamatkar Sandhu of MMA Junkie said this would represent a major shift in power balance if the UFC did give McGregor any kind of special treatment:
On the other hand, if the UFC sticks to its guns and appoints a replacement to fight Diaz, McGregor will have a long wait before his next bout, scheduled to be a featherweight title defence against either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar.
One thing for certain is McGregor's time in mixed martial arts, and indeed the UFC, has not reached the premature end many feared it had.