Conor McGregor, who is considered the biggest star in UFC history, posted on Twitter late Saturday night that he’s retiring from the Octagon.
The announcement, which came after Amanda Nunes’ impressive flyweight title defense in UFC 250, came as a surprise, but already some believe it’s insincere and could be more of a publicity stunt. Retirements are often used as a bargaining tool in combat sports.
The 31-year-old McGregor, who has a 22-4 record in mixed martial arts, fought as recently as Jan. 18 when he scored a a first-round TKO victory over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in UFC 246.
“Hey guys I’ve decided to retire from fighting,” McGregor tweeted. “Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been!”
The skepticism from this retirement announcement comes from the fact that the controversial fighter has made this dubious declaration before. It’s now the third time in four years the former two-division champion has announced his retirement. He also said he was done with fighting in 2016 and 2019, only to return.
McGregor recently hasn’t sounded like a fighter ready to call it quits. On May 28, he posted on Twitter that he would accept a fight with Anderson Silva, another UFC legend. According to ESPN, this summer McGregor was once tied to a potential fight with current top lightweight contender Justin Gaethje, and there also had been specul ation of a trilogy bout, tiebreaker bout against Nate Diaz.
Earlier this week, UFC president Dana White said McGregor might be best served to wait and face the winner of the title bout between Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov, a McGregor nemesis who has a win over him.
After McGregor’s victory over Cerrone, there also was speculation that he would fight Floyd Mayweather again. But a boxing rematch vs. Mayweather would be a bit more challenging to hype again after McGregor was clearly beaten in his 10th-round TKO loss on Aug 26, 2017.
Though White likely would love to have McGregor in another high-profile fight, he told reporters Saturday night that if “The Notorious” wants to retire, he should call it quits, but also noted that people have been acting strangely during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nobody is pressuring anybody to fight,” White said after UFC 250. “And if Conor McGregor feels he wants to retire, you know my feelings about retirement — you should absolutely do it. And I love Conor … there’s a handful of people that have made this really fun for me. And he’s one of them.”
White, who has been feuds UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and star Jorge Masvidal, said the “the amount of people that I have gunning at me right now is insane.”
But the famous promoter, who also has been feuding with HBO host John Oliver, chalked up the heavy amount of UFC intrigue to the turbulent times.
“If that’s what Conor is feeling right now — Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal, I feel you,” White said. “It’s not like I’m going, ‘Holy s—, this is crazy, this is nuts.’ Nothing is crazy and nuts right now, because everything is crazy and nuts right now, on a certain level. I totally understand it and get it.”
McGregor, who has been a subject of controversy throughout his career, has made a lot of history in the Octagon. When McGregor knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight belt at UFC 205 on Nov. 12, 2016, he became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in two different weight classes at the same time.