Conor McGregor is officially out of UFC 200. His fighting future remained unclear.
McGregor, one of the biggest draws in UFC, created a stir Tuesday when he tweeted that retirement was on the horizon and the UFC later tweeted that McGregor had been pulled from its marquee show on July 9.
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The 27-year-old McGregor tweeted, “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”
But is it truly exit cage left for the Irish star?
McGregor was scheduled for a rematch against Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 200.
UFC President Dana White told ESPN that he pulled McGregor from the card after he decided not to attend pre-fight promotional appearances in Las Vegas.
“Is Conor McGregor retiring? Only he can answer that question,” White told ESPN. “I don’t know. But he will not be a part of UFC 200.”
White added he was working on a new main event and could keep Diaz on the card. The stacked card already included an interim featherweight championship bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar and Miesha Tate defends her bantamweight title against Amanda Nunes.
Diaz beat McGregor by submission in the second round of a welterweight bout March 5 at UFC 196, ending one of the most lucrative pay-per-view shows in mixed martial arts history with a remarkable upset.
McGregor’s 15-fight winning streak ended in the bout, which was fought 25 pounds above his usual 145-pound fighting weight. The rematch was set to be contested at 170 pounds, the UFC said.
The loss punctured the intimidating aura gathered by McGregor, the loquacious Irish star who sits alongside Ronda Rousey as the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view stars. McGregor had stopped his previous five opponents, and he landed numerous big shots on Diaz before tiring and losing the fight on the ground to Diaz’s superior jiu-jitsu.
Although McGregor said immediately after the loss that he would probably return to featherweight, he decided instead to take a rematch with Diaz, the entertaining veteran. Diaz accepted the first fight less than two weeks beforehand after lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos dropped out with an injury.
McGregor is still the UFC’s featherweight champion, but Aldo and Edgar will meet for the interim belt.
The winner was scheduled to get the first shot at a unification fight against McGregor.
All of those dream bouts are suddenly uncertain.
Diaz playfully replied to McGregor’s tweet with his own “retirement” announcement. He tweeted, “I guess my work here is done I’m retiring too.”
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, added fuel to the retirement speculation with his own tweet that said, “Well was fun while it lasted.”
Kavanagh later posted an Instagram photo of WWE Hall of Fame manager Jimmy Hart with the caption, “New job uniform.” It could be a playful photo — or a cryptic hint — that McGregor could follow former UFC star Brock Lesnar from the octagon to the WWE squared circle.
Other UFC fighters later joked on Twitter that they also would retire.
McGregor would stun the MMA world if he retired in the prime of his career — and surrendered a seven-figure payday for what’s sure to be the biggest box office card in UFC history. Odds are, McGregor could just want more money and stir retirement speculation as an MMA version of a contract holdout.
McGregor’s showmanship has earned him both huge attention — he was a Sports Illustrated cover boy — and revenue, and fans and cameras flock to the fighter.