Conor McGregor may be a once in a lifetime kind of superstar but that doesn’t mean the UFC can’t survive without him.
Late Monday night, McGregor abruptly announced his retirement from mixed martial arts — for the second time — and seemingly shocked everybody with his decision. Most believe McGregor’s retirement is a negotiating tactic more than actually calling it a career but as of right now, he’s saying he’s done with the sport.
McGregor’s drawing power is undeniable with two fights against Nate Diaz and his most recenty contest against Khabib Nurmagomedov counting for three of the biggest and most profitable pay-per-views in UFC history.
When the Irishman fights, it’s not just an event — it’s a spectacle that draws eyes from all around the globe.
Still as much as McGregor has meant to the sport over the past few years, UFC president Dana White says the company will still find a way to survive without him just like they’ve done in the past.
“I’ve been hearing that for 20 years,” White said when speaking to TMZ about McGregor’s apparent retirement. “I’ve been hearing that when every star is coming to the end of their career. People have been saying that to me for 20 years. When we sold the company, ‘Ari [Emanual] paid too much and the UFC is dead now! They’re not gonna get a television deal!’ I hear this stuff everyday.
“First of all, nobody knows what we’re working on. Nobody knows anything about this sport. Nobody! Not even the so-called experts because all this stuff is new, everything that we’re doing. We’ve been the trailblazers in this business for the last 20 years and we’re gonna be for the next 20 years, too. The stuff that we’re working on is so huge and so next level and it’s amazing when we have stars like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva and Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. But it’s part of sports. There will be others.”
Obviously the UFC would rather have McGregor competing for them but White seems to be calling the former two-division champion’s bluff when it comes to whatever demands he wants met to make his return to action.
McGregor last fought in October 2018 when he fell to Nurmagomedov by fourth round submission and that came after nearly two years out of the Octagon due to his high-profile boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.
As of now, McGregor is steadfast in his retirement — or at least he hasn’t contradicted himself from that initial declaration — but only time will tell if he will ever make his return to the UFC.