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Conor McGregor might not be truly retired, but don’t expect to see the Irish superstar in the Octagon again this year.
In an interview with Barstool Sports, UFC president Dana White guaranteed that the former two-division champion will not fight in 2020. McGregor announced his retirement for a third time in June, but many in the MMA community see it as another negotiating ploy by the Dublin native.
“This year, he’s retired,” White said [transcription via MMAjunkie.com]. “He doesn’t have a fight this year, and he won’t have a fight this year. Conor McGregor will not fight in 2020.
“I’m not saying he won’t fight in 2021, but I’m telling you we don’t have a fight planned for him in 2021. But I guarantee you he will not fight in 2020. Conor McGregor is retired.”
McGregor returned after more than a year away at UFC 246 in January, where he dispatched Donald Cerrone via technical knockout in 40 seconds. In the aftermath, McGregor seemed to be excited about his future in the Las Vegas-based promotion.
“It was good to get back out there and get that feel again,” he said then. “I feel amazing, there’s still work to be done, but this is a great first step. I did great work this camp, I pushed myself so hard I had to hold myself back sometimes. I’m excited about the future. I’m not going to dwell on this victory, it’s back in the gym and back to work. Who is next doesn’t matter. The when is more interesting. The whole world lights up when I fight, so I want to get back out there again.”
However, “The Notorious” one’s disposition seemed to sour when the UFC booked a title unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje rather than McGregor vs. Gaethje. In more recent times, the SBG Ireland represenative has teased a return to boxing against Manny Pacquiao rather than a return to the Octagon.
White doesn’t necessarily believe McGregor is gone for good, but the UFC boss says that he hasn’t spent much time planning the Irisman’s future, either.
“Do we all believe he’ll stay retired?” White asked. “I think most of us don’t believe that he’ll remain retired, but let me put it to you this way: I owe fighters that are under contract with me three fights a year. OK? If I don’t deliver those three fights a year, I have to pay them. Conor McGregor is retired, whether people want to believe it or not.
“He is not fighting right now, so when he’s not fighting, I don’t even think about him or what he’s doing or any of that stuff on a business level. I’ll still shoot him a text personally, but on a business level, he’s out of the mix. He’s not fighting at all. So everybody keeps asking questions about him, and I’m like, ‘Manny Pacquiao? What the f—k are you talking about?”
White told Barstool Sports that the UFC’s schedule is currently planned out through early November and does not include any openings for McGregor. He acknowledged that McGregor still wields great power through social media, but that media shouldn’t react as they do every time he issues a tweet.
“These guys keep asking me about Conor McGregor, who is retired,” White said. “Conor plays you guys like fiddles, man. You guys are like puppets on a string. He’s retired.
“He sends one tweet that says ‘I accept,’ and it’s right after Khamzat [Chimaev] calls him out and two other guys. I’m not focused on anything with anybody who’s not fighting. Conor McGregor is retired.”
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