Conor McGregor, who was pulled from UFC 200 due to his desire to not participate heavily in promoting the event, and had briefly “retired” on Tuesday as a result, posted a lengthy statement on his Facebook page explaining his current position.
“I am just trying to do my job and fight here” McGregor starts the post. “There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop”.
There is much more to the post (which you can read here, where he also emphatically states he is NOT retired), but that is essentially the spirit of Conor’s statement. Conor feels his loss to Nate Diaz was due to a lack of of being prepared, and he specifically mentions how he intends to train properly for a longer, taller, heavier fighter.
It perhaps should come as no surprise that Conor is starting to see strains of the media side of the fight game, as he specifically mentioned that back in December as something he learned from Ronda Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm.
“Maybe just push everything away,” McGregor said. “I know there was problems. I can’t really see her situation. I don’t know her situation. From looking from where I was at, I could see that maybe she’s doing a little too much on the media side.”
Conor of course not only makes himself a lot of money from “playing the media game”, but he is also very good at it, and seems to take quite a delight in it. However, a loss on his record probably confirmed his beliefs that he was putting too much time into promoting his fights, and if Conor is anything, it’s cerebral. Everything he does seems very calculated, despite it often being presented in an insane fashion. Give him a sledgehammer and he would be the HHH of the UFC world.
Case in point, Conor mentions in his post how the UFC had 10 million dollars allocated to promoting UFC 200.
“There had been 10 million dollars allocated for the promotion of this event is what they told me. So as a gesture of good will, I went and not only saved that 10 million dollars in promotion money, I then went and tripled it for them. And all with one tweet.”
Again, when Conor tweeted out the retirement statement, everyone’s first response was to assume it was either Conor trolling people, or had something to do with money. As the silence afterwards extended to an uncomfortable length of time, people started wondering if it was actually true, which only generated more buzz. And whether you like him or not, you can’t deny that Conor’s current situation has put a ton of eyes, and free PR, on not only Conor and the UFC, but on UFC 200 itself.
If you’re a cynical kind of person, you’re assuming the UFC and Conor will hug it out and get everything back on track for UFC 200. While the UFC has never had a problem showing fighters that nobody is bigger than them (Randy Couture is the president of the “I fought the UFC club”), you just know the UFC wants the biggest and best event possible for UFC 200, arguably the biggest show since UFC 100. Conor is also a shrewd businessman, and you know he wants part of the UFC 200 pie.
But as Conor states, “sitting in a car on the way to some dump in Conneticut or somewhere, to speak to Tim and Suzie on the nobody gives a **** morning show did not get me this life.” He is smart enough to know a lot of his marketability is on him not only talking the talk, but walking the walk as well. One need only look at Chael Sonnen to see the limitations a gifted talker runs into when they can’t back their trash talk up.
So at the end of the day, Conor is doing what is best for him, which is indeed admirable. Setting up shop, focusing on his training, being the best Conor he can be, that is the best long term plan for both him and the UFC. And Conor is right in that he has provided some of the best PR in UFC history, so if anyone deserves some leeway on promotional responsibilities, it would be him.
Unfortunately the UFC has a long history of getting entrenched into battles of will power with fighters, so it will be interesting to see who bends and breaks in this situation. Conor probably has the best chance of making the UFC blink first, but with Dana White, you never know what might happen. Dana White is just as likely to fire Conor McGregor via a YouTube video filmed on his cell phone then he would be to give into any demands.
All we do know at the end of the day is that money talks, and with two sides who clearly love money, don’t be surprised if Conor ends up back on the UFC 200 card.
Update: The game of chess continues, as the UFC has reportedly dug its line in the sand and has once again re-iterated it is scrapping the Diaz/McGregor re-match at UFC 200.