UFC chairman Dana White has told Conor McGregor to make up his mind quickly about whether his retirement plans are legitimate or risk seeing his featherweight title go up for grabs at UFC 200.
The Irishman shocked the MMA world on Tuesday night when he announced that he would be “retiring young”, with it later emerging that he had be axed from the UFC 200 card after refusing to attend a promotional event in Las Vegas as he did not want to leave his training base in Iceland.
Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar are scheduled to face off in an interim title fight at UFC 200 in July, with the winner setting about a fight for the title against McGregor. However, with the champion now stepping aside, that fight could become a straight battle for the belt.
“That’s the thing: Conor needs to clear up this whole retirement thing and clear it up fast because if he’s retired, then at UFC 200 Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar are fighting for the vacant title then,” White told FOX Sports.
Following his tweet announcing retirement, McGregor has made no further comment on the matter aside from answering a request for an interview from a reporter in Iceland: “No, I’m retired. F*** interviews.”
McGregor’s SBG team-mate Peter Queally later posted an Instagram photo from their Iceland training base, captioned with a quote from Joker from Batman: “If ya gotta go, go with a smile.”
White explained that his decision to pull McGregor from the UFC 200 card was a simple one, as the fighter simply was not meeting his obligations and had to be treated in the same manner anyone else in the line-up would have.
“Conor McGregor had basically said that he didn’t want to come to Las Vegas,” White said. “We had a tour planned. We were going to start in Las Vegas, we were then going to go to Stockton and then New York and then he could go back to Iceland where he is right now. He said, ‘I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to come’ and I was basically saying you have to come. In the history of us owning the UFC, there’s been one time that a guy hasn’t shown up for his press conference and it was (Nick) Diaz versus GSP and I pulled (Nick) Diaz from the fight.
“You can’t not show up to promote your fight. You can’t do it. That’s where we ended up.”
White added that McGregor’s management had suggested the promotional events be pushed back to May, a time at which the 27-year-old would be happy to attend, but that such a change was not possible.
“The whole problem with this whole thing is, you have to be here to promote your fight and you have to shoot this commercial,” White said. “We’re spending like $10 million in promotion for UFC 200 and all that money is in motion. You can’t do this. I don’t care who you are or how big you are, you can’t do this.
“It never got combative and I was talking to his manager. They were asking let’s move all this stuff to May. You can’t move it. This stuff is in motion.”
It has been suggested that the issue between McGregor and the UFC is money rather than attendance at promotional events, a notion that has been quashed by White.
“Not a money issue, that’s false,” White said. “That’s the problem with the internet, you have all these hacks out there that just make stuff up for clicks. Never, ever was this about money. It was never about money.
“Conor makes a lot of money and Conor’s happy with the money he makes. Conor for the most part is a stand up guy. He’s never come back after agreeing on a deal and then the fight’s announced and he comes back for more money. Conor’s not that type of guy.”
White’s final words on whether McGregor is retired? “I do not [believe he’s retired]. I do [believe he’ll fight by the end of the year].”