Unless you live under a rock I am sure you have heard that current UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor retired abruptly retired Tuesday via Twitter:
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya’s later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
Then 24 hours later he posted this via is Facebook Page:
“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. 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 Connecticut 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 good will, 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 $400 million 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.”
So the question is what is going on? What Conor did was stand up for himself and really all fighters by saying enough is enough. He clearly says to the UFC and Dana White that he needs to focus on his craft and what got him to the belt, not flying around the world promoting UFC 200 (Conor was scheduled to fight in the Main Event of that card in July).
Maybe the average fan doesn’t realize but fighters are independent contractors, they are not employees of the UFC. As Independent Contractors they need to make business decision for themselves, that are in their best interest. If a fighter is coming of a loss and decides he needs to train more and harder to get back into the win column, then that is exactly what they should do. I can’t help but wonder if the constant promotional schedule played a part in Ronda Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm. Ronda never said no to the UFC and was basically everywhere for the better part of 2 years promoting. When was she training?
Conor’s statement has been applauded by many fighters as a way to stand up for themselves and say enough is enough. We are paid to fight (with a little promotion) but not to have training interrupted by promotion.
The UFC has responded by pulling Conor off of the UFC 200 card saying that he is unwilling to do the promotion that they require. I understand the UFC’s point that we need to promote to get the Pay-per-View buys. I really see both sides of this coin. But I tend to lean more to the fighters. MMA Fighters are not making anywhere near what top level boxers are making, yet I would argue that the vast majority of people would say that MMA has surpassed boxing as sport in popularity. MMA Athletes are vastly underpaid when you consider how much revenue a UFC Card generates.
In a nutshell Conor just became the Rosa Parks of MMA; he said I am not going to sit in the back of the bus anymore. I am going to stand up for my rights and my career. I applaud this stand.
Ball is in the UFC’s court. Conor says he can fight at UFC 200, UFC says he can’t unless he does the promotional tour. Should be fun watching what happens now.