- Conor McGregor made a shock announcement Sunday, saying he was retiring from professional fighting.
- The news comes as many of the UFC’s biggest-name athletes are, according to MMA reporters, in “mutiny.”
- It could all come down to fighter pay, as a recent poll on The Athletic showed 77% of athletes do not believe the UFC pay appropriately, commanding between 14% and 17% of UFC revenue.
- McGregor’s retirement announcement follows Henry Cejudo walking away as a champion, and Jorge Masvidal and Jon Jones both expressing dissatisfaction with the company.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Conor McGregor says he is now retired from professional fighting.
The Irish fighter timed his announcement at the opportune moment. It arrived mere minutes after the UFC 250 event had finished in Las Vegas, with many MMA fans watching broadcasts of the high-stakes bouts at the behind-closed-doors UFC-owned Apex facility.
The 31-year-old tweeted: “Hey guys, I’ve decided to retire from fighting. Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been!”
He added: “Here is a picture of myself and my mother in Las Vegas post one of my world title wins. Pick the home of your dreams, Mags, I love you.
“Whatever you desire it’s yours.”
—CONOR MCGREGOR (@THENOTORIOUSMMA) JUNE 7, 2020
Should McGregor follow through with his retirement plan, he ends his career with a win, having drubbed Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds with shoulder strikes, a head kick, and ground-and-pound at UFC 246 in Las Vegas, in January.
It was McGregor’s first win since 2016 having entered the bout off back-to-back losses to Floyd Mayweather in a boxing rules contest in 2017 and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 the following year.
McGregor has tweeted retirement announcements before
Retirement announcements on social media are nothing new for McGregor.
In 2016, he said he decided to “retire young” and “thanks for the cheese.”
That announcement was made just one month after his UFC 196 loss to Nate Diaz, yet McGregor returned in the summer to beat Diaz in the rematch at UFC 202.
He then fought again in November that year, beating Eddie Alvarez to claim the UFC lightweight championship.
McGregor tweeted a second retirement in 2019, alluding to a focus on business ventures like his Proper no. Twelve whiskey brand.
Later that same day, The New York Times published a story saying the fighter was “under investigation over a sexual assault accusation in Ireland.
McGregor denied the accusation, telling journalists ahead of his next fight the following year, “Guys, I have done nothing wrong here.”
It could be a power-play to force the UFC to increase fighter pay
Last year, the former two-weight UFC champions said that he wanted to fight thrice in 2020.
The Cerrone victory earlier this year was considered the first of the three bouts he wanted.
Though the coronavirus pandemic ground the UFC’s combat calendar to a halt, he had been texting Dana White to tell the UFC president that he wanted to compete on the company’s mystery private island, dubbed “Fight Island.”
Since then, The Athletic published a survey showing 77% of MMA fighters polled said the UFC does not pay its athletes appropriately.
MMA website Bloody Elbow reported earlier in the year that fighter compensation percentage of revenue has been between 14% and 17% since 2012.
To compare, ESPN reported that NFL player share of revenue would not fall below 47% in 2020 or 48% in 2021 and beyond.
Athletes in MMA appear to be aware of this, reporters say.
Fighters Only magazine reporter Jim Edwards said there’s a pattern emerging with some of the biggest-name fighters at the UFC now wanting to be paid more.
—JIM EDWARDS (@MMA_JIM) JUNE 5, 2020
Aaron Bronsteter, the MMA reporter at TSN Sports, called it a mutiny, and said that UFC athletes have leverage.
—AARON BRONSTETER (@AARONBRONSTETER) JUNE 7, 2020
Damon Martin at MMA Fighting said the UFC has a “serious problem” now.
“Conor McGregor retired. Jon Jones threatens to vacate his [UFC title] belt and walk away. Jorge Masvidal asks to be released.
“I don’t believe any of these guys are truly done but the UFC has a serious problem right now with its most profitable stars.”
—DAMON MARTIN (@DAMONMARTIN) JUNE 7, 2020
It is unclear if McGregor will go through with his retirement announcement, but should he do so, he would leave the sport with a status of the best-selling UFC fighter of all-time with a record of 22 wins (19 knockouts, 1 submission, and 2 decisions) against 4 losses.
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