Mixed martial arts fans across the world were stunned yesterday when the UFC’s biggest star Conor McGregor announced his retirement from the sport via twitter.
The news came as the UFC announced that McGregor was being pulled from his headline fight at UFC 200 on July 9th.
The official line is that McGregor, the king of promotion and pay-per-view hype, would not break from his training to attend UFC promotion activities.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a WWE-style storyline that will see McGregor run in on the UFC 200 replacement main event and reclaim his role as the top man in the sport.
Sadly though, it looks as though the retirement tweet may be more than a hype job.
McGregor, still only 27 years of age, is the sport’s biggest star and has lead a genuine UFC pay-per-view revival.
His three recent fights have drawn mega numbers, with his two latest fights smashing the magical one million plus buy marks.
In fact his last fight against Nate Diaz, which was a late replacement fight after McGregor’s original opponent Rafael dos Anjos withdrew through injury, is expected to deliver the biggest buy rate in the promotion’s history.
Considering the fact that UFC 100 was a stacked card headlined by Brock Lesnar, makes the likely feat even more amazing.
Despite his big spending lifestyle, McGregor is never going to have to work again, after making multiple millions across his UFC career.
Whether or not he ever fights again won’t hurt his brand and he’ll likely be offered big money gigs across the media for as long as he’s willing to work.
McGregor took the title from the sport’s most dominant featherweight champion ever when he defeated Aldo, his pay-per-views have set all sorts of records, and he has become the sport’s biggest star, all before his 30th birthday.
There is no reason that McGregor ever needs to fight again. He’s done it all.
The UFC will survive even without their biggest star. UFC 200 is a monster event and will sell a million-plus regardless of who is in the main event.
That being said, on a personal level, surely this will all blow over soon and McGregor will return to the UFC 200 headline spot his star has earned.
On a personal level, I am a huge UFC fan, but ever since the retirements of Brock Lesnar and Georges St Pierre, the promotion hasn’t had a fighter I HAD to see fight no matter where or when.
I rostered off and either paid for, or made sure I was at a mate’s who had, whenever GSP or Lesnar competed.
They were more than just brilliant fighters, they had personalities that resonated with me that made them must-watch.
I’m a huge fan of what Ronda Rousey has done, and I believe John Jones is on his way to becoming the most dominant MMA fighter in the sport’s history, but I fully admit to having missed their fights in the past.
I never missed a Brock Lesnar fight, and I saw every fight GSP took part in from the moment I became a fan of the sport.
Until recently, the UFC didn’t have that hold over me, until McGregor’s emergence.
I’ve never been a big fan of the trash talking fighters in the past. Despite his incredible talent, I can’t stand Floyd Mayweather and I cringe every time Anthony Mundine makes a boastful hyperbolic statement.
Until recently I would only watch fights that the Diaz brothers took part in with the hope that they’d be beaten after talking trash.
McGregor changed that.
Instead of simply boasting and throwing childish insults at his opponents, he made it fun.
His smile and quick wit made him an instant favourite of mine, showing that he enjoyed riling up his opponents with his barbs.
The way he took the title away from Aldo during a press conference and laughed as Aldo struggled to control his emotions was priceless.
His ‘red panty’ comments re his opponents celebrating after signing a big money fight with the Irish superstar were hilarious and will live on for a long time to come.
Not only could he talk, but he could back it up.
His incredible flash knock out of Jose Aldo positioned him as one of the best fighters on the planet, and his willingness to fight a much bigger Nate Diaz on short notice further showed his spirit as a warrior.
McGregor had it all. If this is to be the end, I’m sure I will move on, eventually.
UFC 200 simply won’t be the same without him, nor will the big multi-champion UFC conferences.
There won’t be another Conor McGregor any time soon, which is a damn shame.
As a fan, I’m not ready for the charismatic Irishman to retire yet. Surely it can’t happen. It just can’t be true.