The biggest question in MMA today isn't about UFC 217 or the upcoming UFC TV deal negotiations. No, the biggest question in MMA today is "what the heck is going on with Conor McGregor?" While many were expecting things to return to normal following his superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, the lightweight champion's future is less clear than ever.
The timetable for his return is unknown. So, too, is his return opponent. Oh, and as for the location of the bout? It feels like it could land anywhere.
So what's the issue? Why are things taking so long to get sorted out? Well, judging from a media scrum on the red carpet to his upcoming Notorious documentary, it seems like the biggest issue is McGregor's done being "just" a fighter.
"We're in the contract negotiation stage," he said when asked about a UFC return (h/t MMA Fighting's Dave Doyle for the transcription). "It's got to, they've got to entice me now because I came from a billion-dollar fight. I want equity, I want pay-per-view. I want to be a true partner. You have to entice me now. I want to be a partner. I want to be a promoter and I want to be a fighter for me to continue."
Those are some big demands from the smack-talking Irishman...but certainly not unforeseen ones.
McGregor has been suggesting the idea of co-promoting his UFC bouts for over two years now, but when he captured the UFC lightweight title in 2016, he started getting specific with his demands. Being a part of one of the biggest boxing matches of all time hasn't changed that, and with the UFC's struggling through one of its worst years in modern history, McGregor knows the promotion needs him more than he needs it.
That puts the double champ on strong footing with the company and could once again lead to McGregor's pioneering new territory in mixed martial arts. Whether the UFC and McGregor are close to coming to an agreement is anyone's guess, but don't expect to see him back in the cage (or ring) until this is squared away.