Conor McGregor Released A Statement, But How Do We Take It?

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 th…e art of fighting.

There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop.

50 world tours, 200 press conferences, 1 million interviews, 2 million photo shoots, and at the end of it all I’m left looking down the barrel of a lens, staring defeat in the face, thinking of nothing but my incorrect fight preparation. And the many distractions that led to this.

Nothing else was going through my mind.

It is time to go back and live the life that got me this life.

Sitting in a car on the way to some dump in Conneticut or somewhere, to speak to Tim and Suzie on the nobody gives a fuck morning show did not get me this life.

Talking to some lady that deep down doesn’t give a fuck about what I’m doing, but just wants some sound bites so she can maybe get her little tight ass a nice raise, and I’m cool with that too, I’ve been giving you all raises. But I need to focus on me now.

I’m coming for my revenge here.

I flew an entire team to Portugal and to Iceland to make my adjustments in preparation and fix my errors I made with the weight and the cardio prep.

With the right adjustments and the right focus, I will finish what I started in that last fight.

I will not do this if I am back on the road handing out flyers again.

I will always play the game and play it better than anybody, but just for this one, where I am coming off a loss, I asked for some leeway where I can just train and focus. I did not shut down all media requests. I simply wanted a slight adjustment.

But it was denied.

There had been 10 million dollars allocated for the promotion of this event is what they told me.

So as a gesture of goodwill, I went and not only saved that 10 million dollars in promotion money, I then went and tripled it for them.

And all with one tweet.

Keep that 10 mill to promote the other bums that need it. My shows are good.

I must isolate myself now.

I am facing a taller, longer and heavier man. I need to prepare correctly this time.

I can not dance for you this time.

It is time for the other monkeys to dance. I’ve danced us all the way here.

Nate’s little mush head looks good up on that stage these days. Stuff him in front of the camera for it.

He came in with no shit to do that last one. I’d already done press conferences, interviews and shot the ads before RDA pulled out.

Maybe I’ll hit Cabo this time and skull some shots pre-fight with no obligation.

I’m doing what I need for me now.

It is time to be selfish with my training again. It is the only way.

I feel the $400million I have generated for the company in my last three events, all inside 8 months, is enough to get me this slight leeway.

I am still ready to go for UFC 200.

I will offer, like I already did, to fly to New York for the big press conference that was scheduled, and then I will go back into training. With no distractions.

If this is not enough or they feel I have not deserved to sit this promotion run out this one time, well then I don’t know what to say.

For the record also –

For USADA and for the UFC and my contract stipulations –

I AM NOT RETIRED.

Earlier this morning, UFC Featherweight champion Conor McGregor put an end to days of speculation and guesswork with a lengthy Facebook post detailing his take on the events of recent days. One thing must be made clear from this statement, McGregor being tired, either physically or mentally, of acting as a promotional machine should not be mocked or condemned. In a sport such as MMA, the time spent on the road in front of microphones and cameras is essentially time lost to fine tune your craft. McGregor wanting more time to prepare, without distraction, is a perfectly reasonable request and stance to take. But despite all of this, his desire to remain in solitude was taken away the minute he sent out his now infamous retirement Tweet.

Since his UFC debut in 2013, McGregor has been not only a lightning rod for criticism, but a beacon of hope for all that have struggled to survive and finally reach your dreams. All of these dreams came to fruition on December 12, 2015 with a 13 second knockout victory over Jose Aldo. You can say what you want about his approach to an upcoming bout, cocky or confident, but this approach has turned a man that was once receiving government assistance in his home country into perhaps the biggest star the UFC, and the sport, has ever seen. His words may have turned many off, but it is his in-cage performances that speak loudest, and no one spoke louder than Conor McGregor. Until March 5, 2016 that is.

Taking on a short notice, Cabo vacationing, Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 196, McGregor tasted defeat for the first time in nearly 6 years, and obviously his first loss within the UFC. Following this bout, many saw a more humble, down to earth McGregor, showing a side of him most never have the chance to witness. While McGregor didn’t appear broken, something seemed to be missing from the most flamboyant fighter in UFC history. Perhaps it was the realization that he as not invincible for the first time in years, but whatever it was, a new hunger seemed to materialize with this loss. No longer was he viewed as unbeatable, so it became more about his actions in the Octagon than his words outside of it. In almost any other case, these actions would be universally praised, but like anything McGregor related, it has to be viewed differently.

When the Tweet that rocked the MMA world was sent, as well as one from John Kavanaugh, most did not fully understand what was happening. Why would a fighter as talented and dominant as McGregor hand it up following a single loss? Did the death of Joao Carvalho, or the injuries sustained by boxer Nick Blackwell, resinate in McGregor’s head more than anyone expected? Any North American sports fan understands that more and more athletes are walking away at their primes now over the risk of unnecessary injury and punishment.

A few hours after McGregor’s Tweet, UFC president Dana White took to ESPN to reveal that McGregor was being pulled from his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 200 for refusal to participate in mandated media obligation for the event. Now the part of this situation that left many confused was the fact that McGregor announced his “retirement” hourse before White’s announcement, and we left wondering why and athlete of McGregor’s caliber would walk away from the sport because he was removed from a card due to his own refusal to participate in media activities. I mean, this is Conor McGregor, the man who has never met a microphone, camera or reporter he didn’t love. How does someone go from living on media coverage and promotion one day, to doing a complete 180 the next and flat out refuse to do anything?

This is where the statement released today comes into play. Many MMA fans and media, myself included, still hold onto the notion that McGregor failed to have the UFC raise his base pay for the event, even if it wasn’t the reported 10 million. Once the UFC said no to this and removed him from UFC 200, McGregor no longer had much leverage, and as the statement above reads, he is now willing “to fly to New York for the big press conference that was scheduled, and then I will go back into training. With no distractions.”

Why did it take his removal from the event, and after reading this statement that he is not a promoter, but a fighter, did he suddenly agree to take part in media events? As a professional athlete, he must know that media appearance are as important to the company as his actual sporting performance, and refusal would come at a cost. But within this statement is the line:

“I will always play the game and play it better than anybody, but just for this one, where I am coming off a loss, I asked for some leeway where I can just train and focus. I did not shut down all media requests. I simply wanted a slight adjustment.

But it was denied.

There had been 10 million dollars allocated for the promotion of this event is what they told me.

So as a gesture of goodwill, I went and not only saved that 10 million dollars in promotion money, I then went and tripled it for them.

And all with one tweet.

Keep that 10 mill to promote the other bums that need it. My shows are good.

I must isolate myself now.”

If his whole reasoning for announcing his retirement was to promote the event, this seems like a very odd way to promote anything. How does announcing you are no longer an active MMA fighter somehow translate into more people wanting to order the event you are no longer taking part in? The fact that he claims he is a fighter, and not a promoter, yet admits he was promoting the bout in his own way is as ironic a statement as anyone can make. He doesn’t want attention, yet Tweets something that attracts as much attention as anything he has ever done. Whether it was the Tweet or the reasoning for not taking part in media scrums, this appears to be a back-peddle of the highest level to try and control the fallout of a ploy that went very, very wrong on McGregor’s parts.

Perhaps the most perplexing part of all of this however is the fan reaction. We all know fans of any team or athlete can be fickle and hypocritical, but this is expected. You root for your people no matter what, even if the stance you take is non existent. There is no fault in McGregor wanting to focus only on training, but look back to his scheduled UFC 189 bout with Jose Aldo and the world wide media tour to promote the bout. During almost every part of this circus, Aldo seemed bored with the entire thing, stating numerous times he had no interest in taking part. But he did it. The same can be said regarding Nate Diaz. Almost as soon as he was tagged as a replacement for Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, Diaz was thrust in front of the cameras and media, taking away plenty of valuable training time, which was needed more than ever as a short notice replacement. But he did it. So why should McGregor get time by himself simply because and want to work harder, but he got to pick his opponent for the original bout, knowing Diaz would have limited time to prepare?

Hell, look no further than Nate’s brother, Nick, for proof of how important UFC media events are. Diaz lost his UFC 137 title match with Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre for repeatedly missing media events, and this was a man who has stated many times he has no interest in the media. If the masses can bash Diaz for not being a “professional” and manning up to complete his obligations, why does McGregor expect a pass, or get one from anyone?

Sorry if this upsets any McGregor fan, but being the biggest star in the UFC doesn’t give him the right to decide what he will or will not do as a contracted UFC athlete. Making it very clear that in the previous 8 months he has made the UFC $400 million dollars, he conveniently left out the part of the UFC making him a millionaire along the way as well. Without the promotion he is so dead set on avoiding now, his star would not be big enough that people would care that it is him saying it.

It is McGregor’s choice to take part in anything UFC related, even under contract, but when he refuses, and the UFC comes down on him, it is no one’s fault but his own. This is not an issue that should bring the fighter union talk into play, this is simply a man that enjoyed the limelight and attention when he was winning, but now wants the attention off him following a loss. As commendable as it is to want to focus on one area, at this level of the sport, and with his name, being left alone after years of drawing anyone that will listen in, you do not get to decide when people pay attention to you.

The UFC is under zero obligation to give McGregor a “slight adjustment” media wise just because he asks for it. The UFC is in the business of making money, and McGregor in front of a camera makes more than virtually anyone now. McGregor himself has acknowledged this fact, but no somehow expects the rules to be changed, again, just because it is him?

As I commented yesterday, the UFC will bend the rules for certain fighters, but only when it benefits them. They have no peers when it comes to financial gains within the promotion, and McGregor just learned that while he is the money maker for them, if he’s not making them money, he is just another guy. And judging by recent media reports, McGregor will not be re-added to the UFC 200 card, so in the end, he will get his wanted alone time.

To quote a former colleague at AddictedOTR.com (best place for your UK MMA news), Ruarie Farrelly:

“I see his point, but for Zuffa, UFC 200 is a must in term of promo. It is not the event to try and wrangle out of the leg work. I reckon any other event and he would have got what he wanted.”

Jasyn Zangari

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