It looks like Conor McGregor's UFC retirement announcement might be another negotiation ploy.
"The Notorious" former two-division UFC World Champion appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday evening. The show was taped on Monday afternoon and during his appearance, the Irish mega-star spoke candidly about the rumored negotiation issues he is having with the UFC in regards to his return to the Octagon for his next fight.
McGregor told Jimmy Fallon about the issues during an interview that was filmed at Paddy Reilly's Music Bar in New York City in a segment designed to promote his new Proper No. 12 Whiskey business.
"Well, my next fight ... we're in talks for July," McGregor told Fallon when asked about when fans can expect to see him fighting again. "We're in talks for July, so we'll see what happens."
From there, McGregor brought up the politics behind-the-scenes that he has to deal with before an actual fight can be signed, sealed and delivered.
"A lot of politics are going on," McGregor said. "The fight game is a mad game, but again like I said -- and to my fans -- I am in shape and I am ready. So, let's see what happens."
Fallon then asked McGregor if a specific opponent is being talked about in these negotiations.
"There are many opponents. In reality, I can pick who I please," said the former UFC Featherweight and UFC Lightweight Champion. "I've done a lot [and] I've fought a lot [and] I've never pulled out of contests. You know, I've gone through some crazy injuries and some crazy external situations that many-a-man would sprint for the hills if it happened to them, but I stood firm."
He would go on to outright state that when it comes to being a company man for the UFC and doing his part to help build the organization and the sport, he has "done his piece." He explained that due to his current lucrative financial situation after the money generated particularly in his fights with Floyd Mayweather and Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as the success of his Proper No. 12 Whiskey business, he isn't in a situation where he has to fight to make a living and provide for his family, which includes two new children.
"I've done my piece for the company," said McGregor. "So I am in a position now [where] there are a lot of ... like I said, this whiskey is my baby. I've got a lot of great entities [so] I don't necessarily need to fight. I am set for life. My family is set for life. We are good."
His final comments about the topic were also informative in the sense that he let fans know where his mind is at right now. Despite his financial situation, the fighter in him is still very alive. He made it clear that he is not only ready to fight, but is very much looking forward to it.
"But I am eager to fight, so we'll see what happens," McGregor told Fallon. "I'm just staying ready as I like to do."
Just a couple of hours after the Conor McGregor interview aired on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on NBC late Monday evening / early Tuesday morning, "The Notorious" one posted the tweet announcing his retirement from the UFC.
Hey guys quick announcement, I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as “Mixed Martial Art” today.
I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition.
I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement.
Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) March 26, 2019
Back in April of 2016, McGregor pulled the exact same move.
The at-the-time UFC Featherweight Champion (145lbs.) had just lost for the first time in the UFC (the second in his overall professional MMA career) via second-round submission (rear-naked choke) to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 on March 5th.
The fight was contested at Welterweight (170-pounds) on short-notice after McGregor's original opponent, then-UFC Lightweight (155lbs.) champion Rafael dos Anjos pulled out due to a foot injury. When the UFC booked the McGregor-Diaz fight on short-notice, Diaz made issues about the weight they would fight at, prompting McGregor to allow the fight to take place at 170-pounds -- 25-pounds above the weight class he was the champion of at the time.
In typical stubborn / proud McGregor-fashion, he demanded an immediate rematch with Diaz as his next fight, and made it clear that it would again be contested at 170-pounds. His mindset was such that if he were to win the rematch like he felt he would, he would prove their first fight was a fluke. In McGregor's mind, beating Diaz at the same weight as their first fight would prove that Diaz simply got lucky.
And that's exactly what ended up happening.
As negotiations for the McGregor-Diaz fell flat, just 45 days after the loss to Diaz on 3/5, he took to Twitter to announce his retirement from the UFC.
On April 19, 2016, McGregor tweeted, "I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya's later."
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya's later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
Less than four months later, "The Notorious" one was back in the cage -- against Diaz -- at 170-pounds. He would go on to defeat Diaz via Majority Decision at UFC 202 on August 20, 2016 in an epic "Fight of the Year" candidate for 2016.
With the current situation being fresh, between his comments to Jimmy Fallon and the fact that he has pulled the exact same move when faced when the same circumstances in the past, it is very likely that the Irish mega-star is far from legitimately retired from the UFC.
As noted, Ronda Rousey has already commented on the Conor McGregor retirement news during her appearance on ESPN SportsCenter on Tuesday morning, and Finn Balor, a fellow Irish mega-star himself, has posted a tease about McGregor possibly turning up at WrestleMania 35.
We will keep you posted as any further information regarding Conor McGregor and WWE surfaces.