Conor McGregor releases statement regarding UFC 200

Updated with additional thoughts by Dave Meltzer below

Conor McGregor was removed from UFC 200 earlier this week and “retired” on Twitter, events that have taken the MMA world by storm this week. After hearing from Dana White several times, fans and media have been waiting for a response from the featherweight champion on his future and what is going on.

One finally came on Thursday on Facebook.

McGregor stated his desire to still compete at the year’s biggest event while doing less promotional work as he wants to focus more attention to training for his rematch against Nate Diaz. 

He ended his statement emphatically, saying that he is not retired.

Other key quotes:

– “It is time to go back and live the life that got me this life. 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 f*ck morning show did not get me this life.”

– “I feel the $400 million I have generated for the company in my last three events, all inside 8 months, is enough to get me this slight leeway.”

– “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. Keep that 10 mill to promote the other bums that need it. My shows are good.”

– “For USADA and for the UFC and my contract stipulations – I AM NOT RETIRED.”

The full statement is below:

Additional thoughts from Dave Meltzer

The game continues, and make no mistake about it, that is what this is.

Conor McGregor put up a Facebook post today clearly designed to get him back in the main event at UFC 200 without being the one to back down, particularly when a lot of the court of public opinion wasn’t favorable to him since Dana White had done the media to get his side of the story over.  McGregor made it clear he’s not retired and still wants the fight with Nate Diaz on 7/9.  What he said was a calculated move to get back into that match without being the one to back down. 

He claimed that he was paid to fight and not paid to promote, which explains his rationale and what the fight about getting him to come to the U.S. this week was.   

His argument is that with the simple use of social media, he was able to garner tons of publicity without coming in to do press conferences and commercials this week, and what appears to be his concession is that he will do the New York press conference. But the key is the television commercial which UFC is spending $1 million on producing for the show, not the New York press conference.

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Part of the real story here goes back to last year when McGregor had great resentment that he was promoting both Jose Aldo fights so much harder than Aldo was.  The rationale from the UFC side was that McGregor was far more effective than Aldo at promoting, but McGregor felt Aldo not having to do as much tiring promotional work that would keep him from gym time was an advantage.  While McGregor won the fight, it was not a secret he wasn’t happy with Aldo not having anywhere near the media obligations he had, and that Aldo was benefitting by not wanting to promote.

Then, there was a big UFC press conference with all the fighters, where McGregor stole the show, but midway through, Aldo left to fly back to Brazil to attend a wedding.  McGregor had made it clear he’d missed many social occasions to help promote his fights and this was the big press conference event of the year and Aldo, for his biggest fight, was given permission to leave early.

McGregor made it clear he wasn’t retiring, just two days after he said he was and after his coach said he was, and after having photos taken by friends clearly pointing him out as a retired fighter. By making it clear he’s not retiring, it means he won’t be stripped of his featherweight title, which UFC threatened when he claimed to be retired.

From both sides, they are playing a game to the public but the end result is that it is of great financial benefit to both sides for the Nate Diaz fight to take place as scheduled on 7/9.  Both obviously had a dispute, both dug in their heels, McGregor said he wasn’t coming to the U.S. this week and issued a retirement Tweet as his strategy. UFC and Dana White called his bluff by going everywhere and saying he was pulled from the show as their strategy.

This Facebook post was a way to get the public to believe he’s ready to fight and make UFC the bad guys for not giving the fans a fight they want to see. And in offering to go to New York, he’s offering a compromise, but clearly by not coming to Las Vegas for the commercial, it’s a small concession. 

The issue is within UFC there is a mentality that they’ve given in to McGregor over and over, and at some point, you have to say no.

But from a business standpoint, when it comes to the show and the short-term (and almost all promoters think short-term), the best thing is to give the public the fight that will make the most money.

But UFC is in the game long-term, and they are well aware of it.  Essentially the ball is back in their court, and the fight is getting a ton of mainstream publicity that it wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. 

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