One of the most absorbing and divisive careers in the history of mixed martial arts might have just come to an end. Or someone could just be trying to get an upper hand in a negotiation.
Conor McGregor, the controversial former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, tweeted late Monday night that he has decided to retire from MMA. It’s possible McGregor wasn’t being serious, as you never really know with him.
We have, of course, seen something like this before. McGregor tweeted his decision to retire young in 2016. Two days later, he posted a lengthy statement on Facebook that ended with him saying “I AM NOT RETIRED.” So you can draw your own conclusions.
That first “retirement” occurred amid contentious negotiations over McGregor’s rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 200. UFC subsequently pulled McGregor from the event and later held the rematch at UFC 202.
McGregor’s retirement this time occurs at an even more volatile time for the Irishman, as he is still suspended for his role in the chaos following his loss to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
There’s no telling who McGregor might have fought during his return as there has been noise around several fighters, including Donald Cerrone, Tyron Woodley, Max Holloway, Jose Aldo and Dustin Poirier.
McGregor appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon the same night he announced his retirement, saying at the time that he was in talks with the UFC for a July return, per MMA Weekly. That would set up for a fight at UFC 239 in Las Vegas.
McGregor also alluded to “a lot of politics going on,” but reiterated that he is “in shape” and “ready.” He also discussed his career and lot in life, which might have been more of a hint than viewers realized at the time:
“There are many opponents. In reality, I can pick who I please,” McGregor said. “I’ve done a lot, I’ve fought a lot, I never pull out of contests, I’ve gone through some crazy injuries and crazy external situations that many a man would sprint for the hills if it happened to them. I stood firm and done my piece for the company so I am in a position now like this whiskey is my baby, I’ve got a lot of great entities.
“I don’t necessarily need to fight. I am set for life, my family is set for life, we are good. But I am eager to fight so we’ll see what happens. I’m just staying ready as I like to say.”
Whatever’s going on inside McGregor’s head, we can at least safely say the next phase of his career won’t be on the football field.