Conor McGregor isn’t retired and wants to fight Nate Diaz at UFC 200. The question remains whether UFC president Dana White will give the biggest name in mixed martial arts what he wants.
Shortly after McGregor told the world via Twitter that he was retiring on Tuesday, White pulled him from the main event of UFC 200, claiming McGregor refused to participate in a week of promotion for the pay-per-view. In a Facebook post on Thursday, McGregor said he was willing to still do some promotion, but not everything UFC had originally asked of him.
“I feel the $400 million I have generated for the company in my last three events, all inside 8 months, is enough to get me this slight leeway,” McGregor said on Facebook. “I am still ready to go for UFC 200. I will offer, like I already did, to fly to New York for the big press conference that was scheduled, and then I will go back into training.”
UFC 200 is expected to be not only the biggest pay-per-view of 2016, but the biggest event in UFC history. UFC doesn’t yet have a replacement for McGregor, and no one in the company can sell a fight like he can.
When McGregor was defeated by Diaz for the first time in UFC at UFC 196 on March 5, White said the PPV sold 1.5 million buys and called it the “biggest PPV we ever did.” That doesn’t happen without McGregor in the main event, and having him on the UFC 200 card gives the company its best chance to sell a record number of buys on July 9.
Because McGregor is the company’s most valuable fighter, it’s possible that UFC could make an exception and allow him to have a lighter traveling schedule in between fights.
Conor McGregor has headlined the 3 highest live-gate UFC fights in the U.S., according to Forbes. pic.twitter.com/XJLnM09k1b
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 21, 2016
Before this week, McGregor had been the best promoter in UFC. He has agreed to take on multiple opponents on short notice because of injuries, and he's become the most captivating fighter in the company, both inside and outside of the octagon.
Every fighter on the UFC 200 card was scheduled to be in Las Vegas to film a commercial this week and appear at a press conference on Friday. The press tour will continue into next week with media conferences in Stockton, California, and New York City, where McGregor has said he would be willing to appear.
On Wednesday afternoon, White spoke to Colin Cowherd on FOX Sports 1 and said that McGregor could find his way back on the card if he called him right after the interview. But White made it clear that no fighter is above the mandated promotional schedule, no matter how popular they might be.
Later that night, White indicated that it might be too late for McGregor to fight at UFC 200.
“Friday is not the first day of promotion,” White told FOX Sports 1’s “UFC Tonight” on Wednesday. “All of the fighters are here right now. Ten million dollars is going to be spent on promotion and the commercial alone is going to cost $1 million. He’s already missing stuff so the window is pretty much closed.”
If UFC folds then it's sets a precedent for future stars to do the same , short term gain $$$ Long term disaster .. Let's see what happens
— Edward Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) April 21, 2016
Never before has a fighter caused this much commotion by not showing up to a press conference, though there is precedent for adding McGregor back onto the card. When Nick Diaz didn’t show up for a press conference to promote his fight against Georges St-Pierre in the main event of UFC 137, he was pulled from the card. However, Diaz was later announced as the opponent for B.J. Penn, and the fight became the main event when St-Pierre withdrew because of a knee injury.
Even without McGregor, UFC 200 should still break records on July 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Miesha Tate will defend her women’s bantamweight championship, and Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will fight for the interim featherweight title, which McGregor currently holds. There’s also been talk of another big fight being added to the card, possibly a rematch between light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and UFC No.1 pound-for-pound fighter Jon Jones.
“It’s UFC 200. It’s a massive fight. I have 600 people on the roster that all want to fight on this card,” White told Cowherd. “Believe me, when Conor went out, 10 other people called asking to go in. Plenty of people want to fight on this card. It’s gonna be a massive event. It’s still a big fight.
“That’s on him, man. It’s not on me. The show will roll on.”
White has not yet addressed McGregor’s most recent comments.