Friday, April 22, 2016

Split Decision 4.22.16: The Curious Un-Retirement Of Conor McGregor

By Jason Disantis, @JasonInCLE

Your move Dana White…

What was thought by many to be a publicity stunt by the UFC’s featherweight champion and promotional "golden goose", Conor McGregor, has turned out to be just that. Earlier this week McGregor tweeted out, “I have decided to retire young.  Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”, sending MMA fans and the internet into a spiral.

While many thought that the whole thing was a publicity stunt, some thought there could be some legitimacy to the tweet seeing as McGregor recently attended an MMA event in Ireland and watched as Joao Carvalho eventually died from injuries suffered during his match.
Carvalho was only 28 years old and some thought the 27 year old McGregor who said watching "a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life, and then to have it taken away is truly heartbreaking", could have been moved to hang the gloves up by the tragedy.
After his tweet, UFC president Dana White pulled his champ from the UFC 200 card and said "Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial and be a part of the marketing. Is Conor retiring? Only he can answer that question.  I don’t know."

Fast forward a couple of days and McGregor posts a message on Facebook saying that he’s not retiring and that he still wants to fight Nate Diaz at UFC 200 to avenge his loss.
"I am just trying to do my job and fight here," McGregor wrote on Facebook. "I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting. There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop."

McGregor’s focus can be respected.  He is coming off of his first loss in the UFC, although at a heavier weight class than his 145 lb. featherweight championship.  Before his loss to the stronger, taller Nate Diaz, McGregor would often speak of weight not being a challenge and how a champion should be able to move up and down weight classes.  All of that is great for pre-fight promotion but eventually he found out that knockout power at 145, isn’t knockout power at 170.  Losses like that can be sobering for a champion known for being the biggest mouth in the UFC, and respectfully backing it up.

The problem is that marketing is part of the deal.  Drama and promotion build up the excitement of the fight.  And although some think this stunt is actually building the fight up even more, I disagree.  No one wants to see this rematch more now, than they did last week.
Let’s be honest, this is a non-title fight for McGregor against an opponent who isn’t even that good at his weight class.  The only thing making this fight interesting is McGregor trying to avenge a loss and prove he can fight at 170.  Even if he wins he should stay at 145 where he can dominate for the next couple of years.

But here is the real problem.  According to Dana White the UFC has pulled McGregor from UFC 200.  For McGregor to fight Dana White is going to have to officially put him back on the card.  That wouldn’t be a problem.  It’s only been a couple days since the whole retirement fiasco happened.  The question is would he put him back on the card and allow him to bypass the promotional duties his fighters are required to fulfill.
I don’t think so.

Dana White has two options right now: keep McGregor off the card due to his refusal to perform his promotional responsibilities, or put him back on the card and allow him to balk on said responsibilities.

I wouldn’t bet on White letting McGregor back on without performing the promotional duties.  It sets a bad precedent with other fighters and that’s never been his style.  My money is on McGregor falling in line and doing what he needs to do in all areas to continue on to July 9th and fight at UFC 200.

McGregor loves attention and money.  He’s never met a microphone he doesn’t like.  By refusing to promote the fight according to his contractual duties it’s obvious he understands the magnitude of this rematch and moving up in weight.  

This might be the first time in McGregor’s career that he realizes he can’t talk his way to a knockout.

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