Former UFC champion Conor McGregor announced early Tuesday morning that he was planning to retire from professional mixed martial arts, telling fans of his decision on Twitter.
The unexpected announcement came hours after McGregor made an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” in which he told Fallon that he was currently negotiating with the UFC for a potential return in July.
McGregor May Focus on Whiskey Business
This is the second time McGregor has claimed to be retiring on Twitter in his career. Back in 2016, McGregor offered up a similar tweet for fans, before ultimately returning to the Octagon at UFC 202 against Nate Diaz.
In Tuesday’s retirement message, McGregor referenced other ventures – likely meaning his successful whiskey brand, Proper No. Twelve – as influencing his decision to step away from fighting.
“I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ today,” McGregor wrote. “I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement.”
UFC President Dana White didn’t appear to be surprised by the decision. In a text to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, White said that he understood McGregor’s desire to move on.
“He has the money to retire and his whiskey is KILLIN it,” White told Okamoto via text. “If I was him I would retire too. He’s retiring from fighting. Not from working. The Whiskey will keep him busy and I’m sure he has other things he’s working on.”
In his Tonight Show appearance, McGregor suggested that while he was ready to continue fighting, it wasn’t something that he needed in his life.
“I have done my piece for the company,” McGregor said. “I am set for life. My family is set for life. We are good, but I am eager to fight. So, we’ll see what happens. I’m staying ready.”
McGregor Mixed Dominance with Controversy
McGregor (21-4) is a former UFC champion in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions, and was the first fighter in the promotion’s history to hold belts at two different weight classes simultaneously. His most recent fight, a loss to undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov by fourth-round submission, helped UFC 229 generate more pay-per-view fights than any MMA event in history.
McGregor’s MMA career has also contained more than its fair share of controversy – much of it involving Nurmagomedov.
At the media day for UFC 223, McGregor led a group that attacked a bus with several UFC fighters on it, causing several injuries. After his fight with Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, the two were involved in a brawl that led both fighters to be suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Earlier this month, McGregor was charged with robbery after taking a fan’s phone and smashing it on the ground near a hotel in Miami Beach.
It’s hard to know whether McGregor is seriously planning to retire from MMA, and there is plenty of speculation that – like in 2016 – the move could be more of a negotiating ploy than a real end point for the 30-year-old fighter’s career. But regardless of intention, McGregor’s announcement generated praise from White, who said he looks back fondly on the Irishman’s career.
“He has been so fun to watch,” White told Okamoto. “He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the Octagon as he was in it.”