In the DM exchange, McGregor said he wanted to fight in Los Angeles in May and also said he didn't want to be a "step in" for UFC 249 in case either Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov had to pull out of their scheduled fight (warning: contains profanity):
Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA
Here’s the finish of that exchange. Pre covid. Pre retirement. Never turned down offer of Tony as was suggested at the time. I stated months in advance (early February) that I was not interested in being an alternate for two consistent pullouts. Pushed for my own scheduled bouts https://t.co/jXQD2dTWrL
UFC 249 was originally supposed to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in April with a headline fight of Ferguson vs. Khabib. UFC 249 was postponed until May and occurred in Jacksonville, Florida, instead because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, with Khabib stuck in Russia amid the pandemic, the main event became an interim UFC lightweight title fight between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, which Gaethje won by technical knockout.
McGregor noted that by tweeting the DM conversation, he was trying to prove that the narrative of him ducking a fight against Ferguson was false.
In June, White appeared on ESPN's First Take and explained why McGregor was not part of UFC 249:
"He wants to fight Gaethje," White said of McGregor. "Gaethje just won to get the fight with Khabib. He just beat Tony Ferguson. Conor had the opportunity to slide into that spot if Khabib or Tony fell out. He came back and said, 'I'm not a replacement fighter, I'm not going to do it.' He would be in that position now if he took the fight. He didn't, Gaethje did so Gaethje gets it."
While McGregor vs. Ferguson would have happened at UFC 249 had McGregor agreed to be on deck for that event, the Irishman made it clear during his DM conversation with White that he felt a UFC pay-per-view should be built around him instead.
Given McGregor's status as arguably the biggest star and biggest draw in the history of UFC, it is difficult to argue with his logic.
With interim UFC Lightweight champion Gaethje now in line to face the reigning UFC lightweight champion in Khabib, McGregor will either have to wait to face the winner or fight someone else if he wants to return to the Octagon.
McGregor announced his retirement in June and hasn't fought since beating Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 246 in January, but he has come out of retirement before and few believe his retirement is permanent.
Ferguson vs. McGregor with the winner facing the winner of Khabib vs. Gaethje could be tantalizing for UFC and its fans, but there has been no indication that such a fight is close to happening at this point.