Following a few days of drama that left fight fans fearing that UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor had hung his gloves up for good, the outspoken Irishman calmed the masses on Thursday with a revealing post to his Facebook account.
”I am just trying to do my job and fight here,” McGregor wrote. ”I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting. There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop.”
On Tuesday, a sudden post to McGregor’s Twitter account, stemming from his refusal to leave training camp in Iceland for promotional duties and stating his intention to retire, ignited an ongoing media firestorm that’s pulled attention away from the return of Jon Jones at this weekend’s UFC 197.
As a result of McGregor’s decision to shun promotional duties, the UFC then pulled the Irishman out of his upcoming rematch with Nate Diaz at July’s UFC 200 later that same day.
But just when it appeared as though the UFC would have to find Diaz another opponent, and UFC 200’s interim featherweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo would instead be for the real thing, White left the door open for McGregor to return to the card during Wednesday’s appearance on Fox Sports’ ”The Herd” with Colin Cowherd.
”If he called me after this interview, we could probably still do it,” said White. ”The thing is, you have to be here to promote your fight, and you have to shoot this commercial. We’re spending like 10 million in promotion for UFC 200, and all that money is in motion. You can’t do this. I don’t care who you are, or how big you are. You can’t do this.”
In McGregor’s Facebook post, the reigning featherweight king detailed his reasons for refusing to leave training camp to participate in promotional activities related to UFC 200. But it’s clear that he too is willing to compromise.
”I will not do this [defeat Diaz] if I’m back on the road handing out flyers again,” McGregor wrote. ”I will always play the game and play it better than anybody, but just for this one [UFC 200], where I am coming off a loss, I asked for some leeway where I can just train and focus. I did not shut down all media requests. I simply wanted a slight adjustment. But it was denied.”
As of late Thursday night, White and the UFC had yet to comment on McGregor’s post or his involvement in UFC 200. But considering the money involved and the logistics behind resetting the event’s main attraction, you can’t blame the UFC brass for taking some time to make a final decision.
Ultimately, we now know that McGregor is nowhere near retirement, and obviously, that’s the most important thing. Would it be nice to see the sport’s biggest star in the main event of the UFC’s most significant card? Sure.
But remember, if the UFC allows him to return to the card, McGregor won’t be attempting to defend his featherweight crown or take the 155-pound belt from Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 200, he’ll be fighting an irrelevant lightweight for the second time in four months.
And if we have to lose one of McGregor’s fights to a hot-headed dispute that has nothing to do with his performance in the octagon, at least it’s this one.