Conor McGregor has never been afraid to speak his mind, but he has admitted he couldn’t imagine the course of events that would unfold after his infamous retirement tweet last month.
On April 20, McGregor rocked the UFC community by tweeting that he had “decided to retire young” and he was subsequently removed from his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 200 on July 9.
The reigning UFC featherweight champion admitted that the tweet came about after a disagreement with the UFC over promotional obligations.
While the Irishman backtracked on his retirement statement the next day, the damage had already been done. McGregor conceded that he thought long and hard about getting on a flight to Las Vegas to patch things up and salvage his bout with Diaz, but ultimately he decided not to go down that road.
“I’ll tell you what, (the retirement tweet) blew up,” McGregor told ESPN. “I was kind of having fun to start, half-hearted. Then all of a sudden it’s, ‘you’re off 200!’ I was like, ‘alright, well f— you too, then.’
“All said and done, there were times (I thought), ‘I should have just jumped on the damn flight.’ But sometimes you’ve got to do what’s right for you and not what’s right for everybody else — especially if you’ve done what’s right for everyone else a million times over.”
McGregor has asserted that a promotional tour with stops in Las Vegas, Diaz’s hometown of Stockton, and New York was excessive.
The 27-year-old, though, was only willing to fly to New York as he wanted to spent as little time as possible away from his training base in Iceland ahead of his rematch with Diaz, who ended his unbeaten run in the UFC when he made him submit in the second round of their bout at UFC 196.
“It ain’t just three stops, it’s 30 stops within each stop,” McGregor said. “Reasonable media, to me, was New York — where the sport just got legal. Go around, do all the talk shows, all the morning shows, and blow it out of the water where it just became legal.
“I wanted to isolate, focus, get that win back. That’s all I gave a f— about, because essentially all the other s— means nothing. If I lose again, then this whole ship comes down. I’m the one carrying the ship. This whole thing goes down if I’m gone.”
Just a week prior to the promotional tour, McGregor witnessed an MMA tragedy firsthand as Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho died after suffering injuries in his TKO loss to Charlie Ward, who is McGregor’s SBG Ireland team-mate.
McGregor admitted that seeing what happened to Carvalho did have a profound impact on him, but he did not want to open up about it as it would draw more unwanted attention.
“I had f—— journalists knocking down my mother’s door, you know what I mean?” McGregor said. “That’s not what I signed up to do — have people knocking on my mother’s door, talking about a kid dying. It’s not nice to see a kid die like that. It does something to you. And there’s been show after show canceled in Ireland since that. It’s f—– up to be a part of it, and I didn’t want to bring it back up and put it more on a public scale.
“After all that, I did not want to be put in front of a camera and made to dance. I just wasn’t feeling it.”
There has been much talk of a potential boxing match between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr, but the Irishman has said that was not on the agenda when he met UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta for dinner in Los Angeles last Wednesday.
McGregor did not provide any details about the meeting, but did say: “We don’t waste time – we speak, touch base and go straight to what we know, which is good business.”
When asked if he is still committed to the UFC, McGregor said: “I’m committed to the fight game. I enjoy competition. I enjoy challenges. If a challenge is in front of me and it appeals to me, I will go ahead and conquer it.
“Did I make that flight (to Las Vegas)? Did I do all the media? Did I dance like a monkey? No. Am I still here? Am I still fighting? Am I still collecting? Yeah. So, they saved face, I saved face — there was no loser. We all won in a way. I had them realistically, but they couldn’t bow down, so there was no loser. I was over here, they were there and now we’re in the middle. We’re in a good spot.”