UFC president Dana White doesn’t seem to really believe Conor McGregor will stay retired forever, but he also doesn’t plan on him fighting this year.
“This year, he’s retired,” White said in the latest edition of “My Mom’s Basement.” “He doesn’t have a fight this year, and he won’t have a fight this year. Conor McGregor will not fight in 2020.
“I’m not saying he won’t fight in 2021, but I’m telling you we don’t have a fight planned for him in 2021. But I guarantee you he will not fight in 2020. Conor McGregor is retired.”
McGregor, of course, announced his retirement in June, but after a handful of previous retirements didn’t stick, not many believed this one to be a permanent decision, either. White, himself, seems to be among those in that camp. That said, he made it clear the promotion is not currently contractually obligated to offer the former two-division champion any fights, so that’s enough for White to forget about any McGregor plans for the time being.
“Do we all believe he’ll stay retired?” White asked. “I think most of us don’t believe that he’ll remain retired, but let me put it to you this way: I owe fighters that are under contract with me three fights a year. OK? If I don’t deliver those three fights a year, I have to pay them. Conor McGregor is retired, whether people want to believe it or not.
“He is not fighting right now, so when he’s not fighting, I don’t even think about him or what he’s doing or any of that stuff on a business level. I’ll still shoot him a text personally, but on a business level, he’s out of the mix. He’s not fighting at all. So everybody keeps asking questions about him, and I’m like, ‘Manny Pacquiao? What the f-ck are you talking about?”
McGregor has long been a master of using social media to help negotiate his options. Look no further than the fantasy superfight with boxing great Floyd Mayweather that McGregor turned into a reality, largely due to fan reaction to social media teases.
So when “The Notorious” recently tweeted “I accept” in
Tagalog, boxing superstar Pacquiao’s native Filipino language, rumors began to circulate that McGregor was looking for a return to the squared circle.
White doesn’t believe there’s any real interest on McGregor’s part in that contest. After all, despite the retirement, McGregor does remain under contract with the promotion and would need their blessing to box again.
“If he wanted to do it, he would’ve called me,” White said.
Of course, one day prior to the Tagalog message, McGregor also tweeted the same phrase in English.
White said he believed that was in response to fast-rising prospect Khamzat Chimaev’s request to take on McGregor, Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal, all in a single night.
Regardless of the messages’ intent, White said they simply prove a point: When McGregor talks, media quickly parrots the message.
“These guys keep asking me about Conor McGregor, who is retired,” White said. “Conor plays you guys like fiddles, man. You guys are like puppets on a string. He’s retired.
“He sends one tweet that says ‘I accept,’ and it’s right after Khamzat calls him out and two other guys. I’m not focused on anything with anybody who’s not fighting. Conor McGregor is retired.”
White, who was speaking from UFC headquarters, said the UFC’s schedule is currently laid out through Nov. 7 and does not include any potential slots for McGregor. Of course, if the biggest star in the sport changed his mind, it would be very easy for those cards to be shuffled in rapid order.
But for now, White’s message, which he repeated several times, is simple: “Conor McGregor is retired.”