It has been a very strange week in the life of UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, having been linked to an alleged assault on an associate of a Dublin cartel
Many had hoped that Conor McGregor would be fighting at UFC 219 at the end of the month. “The Notorious”, it seemed, would be doing what he has never done before: defending a title.
With that card now confirmed and McGregor no closer to announcing a return to the promotion which made him a superstar, fans are instead learning that the Dublin native may have crossed the wrong people (which you can read in part 1 & part 2).
So what exactly is happening? Has the UFC’s relationship with their biggest star gone sour? Or is McGregor simply refusing to bend in his demands for a bigger piece of the pie? “The Notorious” has never shied away from asserting that he wants more than just fight purses and pay-per-view points from the promotion, arguing that he deserves a stake in the company which was acquired for a sum of $4.4 billion in 2016.
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley suggested that McGregor’s reluctance to return to the negotiating tables with Dana White and co. is due to an impasse in negotiations which frustrated his lightweight counterpart. Having reportedly made it clear to the top brass that he wants the lion’s share of any pay-per-view income and demanding that no other top draws are placed on any of his cards, this may have potentially been rejected flat out:
“From what I hear, if he’s on the card, he doesn’t want any pay-per-view grossing fighters on the card with him,” Woodley told MMAjunkie. “Because he doesn’t want to feed us anymore, which I can respect. The dude is the draw. You can hate all you want, but he’s the draw. He’s that dude right now.
“The people that are going to watch me are going to watch Conor,” Woodley said. “There are people that watch Conor that might not watch me. So I can see where he’s coming from, in basically feeding us to get pay-per-view. I really don’t have an issue with that.”
The UFC may look differently. While McGregor could arguably still crack the top 5 PPV’s in the company’s history by fighting on a “Fight Night” which is not as stacked as, for example, the UFC 205 card where he became a two-weight champ, this may be a gamble for the promotion.
With the current tension surrounding him in Ireland over the alleged assault of a Kinahan gang member’ father, it can also be argued that the Dubliner is demonstrating that he is happy in his homeland and will need to be, as he put it, ‘enticed’ into fighting. When updating fans on the failed contract negotiations for the mooted UFC 219 bout with interim champion Tony Ferguson, the 29-year-old claimed that he was finding it ‘hard to get excited’ by a bout which he feels would earn him nothing more than a small fraction of the payday he landed against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August.
UFC President Dana White suggested that McGregor may not return to fighting at all:
“Listen, Conor might never fight again,” White said as he was discussing the McGregor-Bellator incident. “He made $100 [expletive] million. I’ve got guys who made less than that who are lawyers and went to school their whole lives and quit working. When you go to school your whole life to be a lawyer, and you’re a good lawyer, and you make a few bucks and you’re done? The guy’s sitting home every day watching cartoons or whatever he’s doing. I don’t know.
“[Ex-UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva doesn’t work anymore. These guys make money and that’s it. Fighting is the worst. Fighting is the worst. Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you have $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”
White also touched upon the reports of McGregor’s altercation in Dublin:
“I don’t think it’s true [the rumors of assaulting an associate of the Kinahan cartel]. If it was true it’d be big. Conor can walk down the streets and it is big news. If this was true, I’d just have to believe it would be off-the-charts crazy. If it is true, we’ll end up finding out. I can’t chase all these things around. If it’s true, we’ll get it figured out and we’ll go from there.
“It can’t be a good thing for Conor but you never know. I don’t know how that stuff works. I didn’t know any of those guys or any of that stuff. But I’m sure it can be worked out too. Jake LaMotta’s brother beat the s**t out of a wise guy and they figured it out.”
So what is happening with Conor McGregor? It is anyone’s guess at this point.