For weeks now, fans of MMA and Conor McGregor have watched many people’s favorite fighter bicker with the company who has his fighting and contractual rights, the UFC, to the point where the UFC pulled him from headlining their marquee UFC 200 pay-per-view card.
Although UFC President Dana White and McGregor have had a rift for months, according to former Bleacher Report writer Jeremy Botter, the beef seemed to be somewhat settled when the UFC granted McGregor his wish to rematch Nate Diaz instead of forcing him to defend his featherweight championship against either Jose Aldo or Frank Edgar.
But all that changed when McGregor shocked the MMA world and seemingly tweeted his retirement on April 19, 2016. Many immediately questioned the legitimacy of the retirement given McGregor is only 27 and could make a substantial amount of money if he continued to fight.
A few hours later, when White said he pulled McGregor from the card because he would not fly out to Las Vegas that weekend to do press like every fighter on that card agreed to, many realized McGregor’s retirement was likely just part of a beef between him and the UFC.
This was further confirmed by him announcing two days later he was not retiring and wanted to focus more on training, which is why he did not fly out to Vegas. To further emphasize this, the next day he again tweeted “Everyone flew in. Respect. But not everyone up there made the company 400 million in 8 months.”
Since then, the UFC has announced Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier as the replacement main event at UFC 200 and the beef between McGregor and the UFC has yet to simmer down.
White has now publicly said McGregor can fight on UFC 201, 202, or 203, assuming he shows up for his media obligations, but that he will not get the Diaz rematch or fight at UFC 200. Instead, White said he will have to face the winner of the Aldo Edgar fight at UFC 200.
And just this past Monday, to further show there is still no love lost between the UFC and McGregor, McGregor responded to a question about how many buys UFC 200 would do without him by declaring if the UFC had kept him on the card he would have broken the pay-per-view record set by the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight.
The thing is, McGregor reportedly recently signed a new contract with the UFC that locks him up for the foreseeable future, and so McGregor is stuck fighting for the UFC if he wants to continue his career. So, how can the UFC and McGregor resolve their issues?
One possible solution would be to offer McGregor more money to make the press appearances. Many fighters, such as UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, have said they feel McGregor should make the media appearances, so the UFC would likely have to keep the pay increase between McGregor and the UFC secret.
If the UFC and McGregor can agree on a financial number, and the colorful McGregor can speak to the public without disclosing his pay increase, this solution could benefit both sides.
Another possible solution would be for the UFC to agree to a compromised media schedule with McGregor. While this could anger fighters like Tate, the UFC could quickly point out that McGregor has a stardom in the organization that no one besides Ronda Rousey can equal. This is evidenced by his retirement tweet which got an astounding 170,000 retweets and headlined the front page of many sports websites.
In comparison, someone like UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, who McGregor was originally supposed to fight at UFC 196, only has close to 97,000 followers in total. So this shows McGregor can market himself without showing up to all the press conferences, as his tweet got as much, if not more attention than the actual UFC 200 press conference. If fighters like Tate want to complain, the UFC can point to the attention McGregor can clearly draw to a fight without showing up.
Of course, the solution just mentioned seems the least likely, as the UFC has not backed down in past beefs with fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture. If the UFC were to seem to bend to McGregor’s wishes, that could set a dangerous precedent of fighters feeling they can go against what the UFC wants and win.
So, because of this and the fact that the UFC has the leverage in the situation from owning McGregor’s contractual rights, McGregor may have no choice but to eventually apologize for missing his media obligations and attend them for the remainder of his contract. This might be the most likely resolution to the situation but will likely take the longest, as someone with the amount of pride McGregor has will not be quick to admit he’s wrong. Maybe the UFC will again agree to grant him the Diaz rematch in return for him coming back to the UFC, and doing the press the UFC wants him to do.