It all started with a tweet.Hundreds of thousands of fight fans were caught off guard by the seemingly out-of-nowhere declaration by UFC champ Conor McGregor. Some even wondered if the loss to Nate Diaz had the Irishman shaken. As days passed, and insiders weighed in, the source of the conflict became clear -- as mud.
Just what the heck was going on with Conor McGregor? Finally after a couple of days of heavy speculation, Conor McGregor made his sentiments known on Facebook (and via Twitter)As Conor said in his official statement.
"I am just trying to do my job and fight here. 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."This lengthy explanation almost paints McGregor as a proud everyman who just wants to get down to the business of fighting, someone with no time to fly to Las Vegas -- a victim being abused by the callous UFC brass. It's a thoughtful comment that easily inspires sympathy. Yet, there's something slightly amiss about it, particularly the word "yet." It's possible that Conor McGregor was angling for additional money to promote this entire time, and is shaking things up in an effort to get his way.
It's certainly not as if the promotion of fights is anything new to Conor -- certainly not with his claim of "50 world tours, 200 press conferences, 1 million interviews, 2 million photo shoots." It's not as if the man isn't his own ready-made hype machine. However, if he was angling to a bigger payday, he may have chosen the wrong method to make his threat stick, with UFC owner Dana White choosing to pull him from the landmark event altogether.
Not long after realizing that his bosses had called his bluff, suddenly Conor had no interest in retiring young.I haven't seen too many people talk about this particular tweet, as it's sandwiched between his surprise declaration and his explanation, but it's a telling statement: Conor McGregor thought he could play games with Dana White and win. As cheeky as Conor may be, perceptive he is not.
Dana White is not the kind of man you play games with. Should White be especially angry over the embarrassing turn of events, McGregor could find out how expendable he is -- especially coming off of an embarrassing loss to Diaz.
It turns out that McGregor himself demanded the rematch against Diaz. Should Conor lose again, what happens next? Should the Diaz rematch never happen, and McGregor goes back down to 145 and loses his belt, then what? A man who is only one loss away from being thrown away in today's "be invincible or be forgotten" fan culture can't afford to play these kinds of games.Observers seemed to be of two minds about the ongoing drama. Either, one, Dana White and Conor McGregor are in "cahoots" together, purposely stirring up drama to create more hype for UFC 200 or two, Conor Mcgregor wanted more money and was threatening to walk unless satisfied.
Depending on where the speculator's sympathy lies, Conor McGregor is painted as a villain (for being a greedy, egotistical fighter ) or the UFC is instead blamed (for being manipulative and abusive towards its hard-working fighters).
Despite the finger-pointing and worry that UFC 200 will be a disaster, it seemed that there was still a chance to save face. MMAJunkie wrote that Dana White had claimed a small window of time was available for Conor to do a bit of on-the-phone groveling and get his spot back.
"The one thing nobody is exempt from is promoting their fights," White told Cowherd. "Muhammed Ali promoted his fights. 'Sugar' Ray Leonard promoted his fights.
"Mike Tyson, if you think about Mike and how he was when he was the champ, if you go online, you'll see these things with Mike Tyson, he's basically in a room for an hour – 'Watch my fight tomorrow live on Comcast.' Everybody promotes their fight. You have to do it."
The UFC president said he's currently looking for a replacement to face Diaz (19-10 MMA, 14-8 UFC) in UFC 200's headliner and told Rome that two more bouts could be headed to UFC 200.
Apparently McGregor wasn't interested, seeing how the UFC could hold the landmark UFC 200 event without him.Conor may have to see it as his removal from the event is now (allegedly) 100 percent irreversible, a decision that the Daily Mail claims cost McGregor a whopping £7million, or $10 million.
While everyone asks what went wrong, and if UFC 200 can be saved, Conor McGregor seems to have some confidence left that White will cave at the end of the day. Within hours of his statement, McGregor tweeted the following:It's a dangerous game that Conor McGregor is playing, honestly believing that the UFC won't risk seeing his hype train completely derailed. If anything, taking the spotlight off of Conor (who is no longer undefeated, it must be noted), could inspire the search for exciting up-and-coming fighters. In the meantime, McGregor could find himself in limbo alongside Holly Holm until the UFC is desperate need of an exciting match-up and ready-made hype.
Do you think UFC president Dana White should put Conor McGregor back on the fight card for UFC 200? Are you #TeamUFC or #TeamMcGregor? Share your thoughts below!
[Photo by Rey Del Rio/Anthony Kwan/Getty Image]