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What next for the mercurial Conor McGregor after UFC 200 exit?

Lee Gormley | April 20, 2016

‘The Notorious’ out of UFC 200

‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor recently sent the sporting world into overdrive with a cryptic online message declaring his supposed early retirement, before it was announced that the Irishman had been pulled out of the upcoming UFC 200 on July 9th.

UFC president Dana White took to American television to reveal that McGregor was unwilling to return to Las Vegas to undertake his required media duties and help promote the forthcoming landmark event for the organisation.

“We pulled Conor McGregor from UFC 200 and we’re working on other fights right now,” stated White.

“Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial and be a part of the marketing. He’s in Iceland training. Is Conor retiring? Only he can answer that question. I don’t know.”

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At just 27 years of age, the Dubliner has already lifted the sport into the mainstream light and become a worldwide star, proven by the immediate mass frenzy caused by his latest exploits, but what is next in line for the UFC featherweight champion?

What next for McGregor?

Coming off the back of his maiden loss in the UFC, a second-round submission at the hands of Nate Diaz in March, McGregor was set to bounce back in July’s main event during a high-profile rematch against his conqueror.

Such a match-up was expected to generate a mammoth following and huge pay-per-view numbers but, since being scrapped, White will now be in search of a stand-in to take on American Diaz this summer, as McGregor’s absence disrupts proceedings.

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The Irishman was seemingly only entering his prime years, going in search of a historic second simultaneous world title, after dethroning long-standing featherweight title holder Jose Aldo, and was on track to elevate the sport to grander heights. Especially with MMA having been recently legalised in New York, the home of the prestigious Madison Square Garden.

A clash between Aldo and Frankie Edgar was set to determine who would face McGregor later this year, with that New York venue lined up as the host for MMA’s curtain raiser in the state, but now looks unlikely with the Dubliner 4/1 from Coral to still fight at UFC 200.

Whether ‘the Notorious’ has actually called time on what would be a short but sweet career is unclear as of it, but it would seem a bizarre end for a fighter who only days ago also stated online that he was “hungry like day one” and he is odds-on 1/10 to fight on.

Recent tragedy affecting McGregor?

McGregor is currently in Iceland training and helping his Straight Blast Gym stablemate Gunnar Nelson prepare for his upcoming fight against Albert Tumanov, and his supposed retirement talk comes just a week after Joao Carvalho was tragically killed during an MMA event in Ireland.

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The Dubliner was present at the event when Carvalho lost via a third-round technical knockout to SBG teammate Charlie Ward, and later revealed his sadness after the fighter passed away two days following the bout.

“Nobody involved in combat sports of any kind wants to see this. It is such a rare occurrence that I don’t know how to take this,” admitted McGregor.

“I was ringside supporting my teammate, and the fight was so back and forth, that I just can’t understand it.

“With the recent incident in boxing and now this in MMA, it is a sad time to be a fighter and a fight fan.”

Cutting ties with the UFC?

Having become the most marketable star of the UFC since bursting onto the scene in April 2013, stopping Marcus Brimage in the first round, McGregor has personally profited enormous amounts and is bound to the organisation by an opulent contract.

Sport - UFC - Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor Press Conference - Dublin Convention Centre

So contract-wise, the Irishman is unable to simple leave the UFC, meaning a retirement clause may be his only option to cut his ties with the company. If so, McGregor wouldn’t be short on options and would be hot property, though he is 9/4 to start his own promotion for his next fight and 6/1 to fight under a new organisation.

The featherweight champion is also 15/8 to branch out and feature in the WWE during 2016 or, having previously been involved in a verbal back-and-forth with retired Floyd Mayweather Jr, he is 12/1 for his next fight to be in the boxing ring.

Although, as it has often been the case with the Dubliner, money could well be root of the recent retirement claims.

All about the money

McGregor reportedly requested a substantial purse, more than any other fighter for UFC 200, and looks to be holding out for White to pay up as he uses his leverage of being the face of the organisation, especially in the absence of Ronda Rousey, to force through a record amount for his services.

But the UFC president was adamant his main attraction was simply refusing expected tasks, stating: “He didn’t want to. He’s in Iceland training and he felt leaving right now would hurt his training and getting ready for this fight.

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“But every other fighter on the card was coming. I get accused of coddling Conor all the time, but at the end of the day, I respect Conor – but it doesn’t make you exempt for showing up for the press conferences and all the promotional stuff that we have to do. We spend a lot of money with this stuff, and you have to do it, man.”

With the Irishman off the card for UFC 200, the showcase event will undoubtedly take a hit, as White scrambles for a new opponent to face Diaz, while the sporting world eagerly anticipates the mercurial McGregor’s next career move.

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