One of the biggest news stories in MMA history continues to evolve as UFC president Dana White announced on ESPN Tuesday night that featherweight champion Conor McGregor is off UFC 200, and that they will soon announce a new main event.
White appeared on ESPNews after hours of silence by UFC in the wake of McGregor’s apparent retirement tweet earlier in the day, and said that McGregor was taken off the card for refusing to come to Las Vegas, NV, for a press conference to promote the show. Obviously, there is far more to that since McGregor was the key to the show.
White claimed that the company and McGregor have a good relationship but “you can’t decide not to show up to these things. You have to do it.”
White described it as that McGregor was training in Iceland and didn’t want to break his preparation for the fight to come to Las Vegas, but regarding whether McGregor has really retired, White said that only McGregor knows for sure.
White said that he would be discussing a new opponent for Diaz on Tuesday, which, given the lay of the land and the show itself, would logically have to be lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. It will be a huge drop in quality and will badly hurt the aura of UFC 200 as the biggest show in history, but it would still be a show with three title matches if that was the case.
Dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez had been announced a few days earlier for a Fight Pass headlining title fight on July 7 in Las Vegas, two days before the UFC 200 July 9 date at the new T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Obviously McGregor is playing it close to the vest and there is a story behind the story, which is already getting the obvious speculation about the sides playing a game of who holds the cards when it comes to a deal.
Both sides would be out millions of dollars if the fight doesn’t happen. UFC can obviously survive the loss, but McGregor has tremendous leverage because the increases in UFC business over the past year are largely due to he and Ronda Rousey. Now, the future of both are speculative.
It is always possible that McGregor will retire, but historically in these circumstances, that isn’t the case. McGregor was live at the show last week where Joao Calvalho passed away, but he had resumed training for the Diaz rematch in Iceland.
Following McGregor’s tweet, John Kavanagh, McGregor’s trainer, as well as other close to the situation, tweeted that McGregor has indeed retired from fighting, shortly before a fight that he had asked for and one that would have garnered him the biggest payday of his career.