It all began with a tweet.
Less than 150 characters were enough to send the MMA world into turmoil, the McGregor effect in action. Here are the now infamous words, 165,770 retweets later:
‘I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.’ – Conor McGregor.
The immediate reaction was one of amusement mixed with a dash of bewilderment. It wasn’t long before various sources were confirming that it wasn’t a joke. Something was going down up in Iceland. Later that night, UFC president Dana White went on live television to announce that he was pulling Conor McGregor from his scheduled fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 200. Citing the Irishman’s refusal to attend press events in the US this week as the reason.
During subsequent interviews, White went on to explain that Conor was scheduled to appear at three press conferences, in Vegas, Stockton California and New York. He issued an ultimatum, if Conor was to call now, they could work it out. Perhaps the most telling aspect of Dana’s comments was how reserved he was, how complimentary he was of McGregor and how well he was seemingly taking the news. This is in stark contrast to his attitude in the past, toward UFC fighters who have drawn the ire of the company. He was leaving the door open, he wanted this, the UFC needs this, but billionaires aren’t accustomed to being strong armed, he was standing his ground.
Conor McGregor finally released a statement the following day, a long detailed statement with real emotion and heart, combined with his usual braggadocios humour. The last line was especially emphatic, just to clear up the confusion,
‘I AM NOT RETIRED.’ -Conor McGregor.
In short, he believes the media obligations are too much, a sentiment he has mentioned in the past. He wants to get back to what made him who he was, he wants to train, to learn and to fight. He believes he has earned the right to give this one a miss, and he just might have a point.
‘I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting.’ -Conor McGregor.
McGregor has faced last minute opponent switches in two of his last three fights, he has done countless interviews across the continental United States time and again, sometimes doing two takes in case of a late switch. He has drawn eyes and dollars that no other UFC star can muster, except perhaps Ronda Rousey who is currently on a break. It’s natural to be turned off by anyone seeking special treatment, but if anyone has earned it, it’s Conor.
’50 world tours, 200 press conferences, 1 million interviews, 2 million photo shoots, and at the end of it all I’m left looking down the barrel of a lens, staring defeat in the face, thinking of nothing but my incorrect fight preparation. And the many distractions that led to this.’ -Conor McGregor.
So what’s different this time around? Why has McGregor, a media juggernaut suddenly decided that enough is enough, and this is the time to make a stand? His words are telling, he is coming off a loss and that fact isn’t lost on the Featherweight Champion. His fight IQ is as high as anyone in the game, he understands that he can’t just repeat the training and preparation of the past. Something has to change.
‘I am facing a taller, longer and heavier man. I need to prepare correctly this time. I can not dance for you this time.’ -Conor Mcgregor.
‘I’m doing what I need for me now. It is time to be selfish with my training again. It is the only way.’ -Conor McGregor.
McGregor went on to offer to fly to New York for the press conference, but only New York. However the commercial shoot and other activities in Vegas are costing the UFC a lot of money, and they seemingly wont budge.
So here we are, two days out from the return of the greatest fighter in the UFC today, Jon Jones at UFC 197, and all anyone can talk about is a Dubliner with one hell of a left hand. McGregor’s original retirement tweet and the subsequent story has generated more press for UFC 200 than any amount of press conferences ever could. It’s no longer about one press event, or one interview or appearance, or even a million dollar commercial shoot. The buzz has been created and no amount of money can top what’s happened this week. It’s about a lot more, it’s about Conor McGregor VS the UFC, about pay for media obligations and it’s about setting a precedent for the future. The UFC want McGregor, but they’ve drawn a line in the sand, this far and no further. The door is open, but it’s closing fast, it’s a high stakes game of chicken and no one wants to be the first to flinch.
McGregor can’t give in now, and the UFC can’t bow to his demands after what’s happened, at least, not publicly. It started as an argument over a press event and it’s become a war over the scheduling and compensation of media appearances, a war over who has the real power and a war of ego.
Conor’s latest tweet is a clear message, this story isn’t over yet.
‘I’ve got my bills paid. My money made. And the entire game slayed. #YourMove.’ -Conor McGregor.
McGregor wants to fight at UFC 200. The UFC want McGregor to fight at UFC 200, however ego and pride often stand between what we want and what we get, for ‘The ego is not master in its own house.’
It all began with a tweet.
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