Is Conor McGregor threatening to go rogue once again?
Despite all the money they make for each other, the UFC superstar hasn’t had an easy relationship with the promotion he fights for since winning the featherweight title in 2015, and recently retired once again from the sport saying he was ‘bored of the game.’
That latest spat came about because the UFC refused to set up a McGregor vs. Gaethje fight with the winner getting Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I laid out a plan and a method that was the right move, the right methods to go with,” McGregor said in June. “And they always want to balk at that and not make it happen or just drag it on. Whatever I say, they want to go against it to show some kind of power. They should have just done the fight — me and Justin for the interim title — and just kept the ball rolling.”
Without a big mixed martial arts fight to occupy his time, it sounds like McGregor is looking back to boxing where the UFC has less ability to call the shots. Earlier in the week Conor tweeted “I accept,” a comment with no context that went over everyone’s head. On Saturday he made things a bit more clear by writing “I accept,” again in Filipino — “Tinatanggap ko,” — which clued people in that he was talking about potentially fighting Manny Pacquiao.
This isn’t the first time McGregor has talked about fighting Manny. He referenced Pacquiao as a potential backup opponent in the early days of negotiation for the Mayweather-McGregor boxing bout, and in the lead-up to his January return to the UFC McGregor revealed a deal was nearly struck.
“Manny, we were actually close to signing [to fight] Manny,” McGregor said. “There’s been talks about a Manny fight as well. There was an offer made on that. Just not yet.”
Is ‘yet’ now? A reporter in Las Vegas asked UFC president Dana White about the rumors and White sounded pretty irritated by the whole thing.
“I think Conor responded on Twitter, he said ‘I accept’ in Tagalog, which is what Filipinos speak,” the reporter asked White at the UFC Vegas 5 post-fight press conference. “He’s obviously under the same management firm as Manny Pacquiao which led to a lot of rumors circulating. So is there anything happening there?”
After asking for the question to be repeated and acting like he didn’t even understand what was being asked, White shook his head.
“I don’t care about any of that s**t,” he said.
Normally what the UFC boss says goes when it comes to fighters under his contract, but with boxing there’s a potential out: the Ali Act, which gives boxers protections that mixed martial artists don’t receive. Back when the Mayweather fight was just a twinkle in Conor McGregor’s eye, “The Notorious” made it clear he was willing to use the Ali act to break out of his contract and box if the UFC refused to work with him.
“I believe so, with the Ali act I believe I can [fight outside UFC],” McGregor said in 2017. “But I think it’s smoother with all involved. I think we’re all about good business. I’ve done great business with the UFC, with Dana and everyone. But again, everyone’s gotta know their place. So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
With a Pacquiao vs. McGregor fight the biggest money making endeavor both men could participate in right now, there’s real legs to this potential bout. If it was anyone other than McGregor, we’d say don’t put too much hope into it happening, but with his history of going his own way and forcing fights into existence via sheer will, we put this at a 50-50 chance right now.