Conor McGregor appeared to respond to UFC President Dana White's decision to strip him of his title and comments he made to TMZ Sports about McGregor wanting "some time off" with an Instagram post on Thursday:
"Conor understands," White told TMZ Sports about the decision to strip him of the lightweight title. "Conor made a lot of money. He wants some time off, but the division has to go on and the business has to go on."
White had previously noted in a January press conference that Tony Ferguson and challenger Khabib Nurmagomedov would be fighting for the lightweight belt—not the interim belt—at UFC 223 in April, though at the time he abstained from directly saying McGregor would be stripped of the belt, per B/R's Jeremy Botter.
On Thursday, he didn't leave it up to interpretation, adding that he didn't know when, or if, McGregor would return to the Octagon.
"It was August, and then September. I don't know," White told TMZ when asked when McGregor would fight again. "I say it all the time, man, with that kind of money Conor might never come back."
McGregor's Instagram post left little doubt that he intends on returning to fight. Who he fights upon his return remains the major question.
There continues to be buzz surrounding a rematch between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr., with the second fight perhaps coming in a UFC octagon with MMA rules, though McGregor suggested that Mayweather had pulled out of any such negotiations with an Instagram post last week:
That was in response to Mayweather offering a non-answer when pressed about a potential rematch with McGregor during the NBA All-Star Game, per Mike Bohn of USA Today:
Given all the back-and-forth between McGregor and Mayweather, the uncertainty regarding McGregor's return and White's latest comments, the Irish superstar's eventual comeback will generate an extraordinary amount of hype.
It's almost as though all of the drama is good for business.