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[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 27, 2019, 12:25 PM]
Author: Damon Martin
The reasons behind Conor McGregor’s sudden retirement this week are still unknown and even UFC president Dana White can’t exactly put his finger on why the Irish superstar decided now was the time to call it a career.
In his announcement, McGregor stated, “I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as “Mixed Martial Art” today”, leading many to speculate that the fighting sport he loved so much wasn’t the same as it used to be.
Over the past couple of weeks, McGregor has repeatedly stated he was in negotiations for a return in July but talks were still ongoing with the UFC. One of the holdups to McGregor’s next fight was the UFC attempting to book him into a co-main event slot.
The former two-division UFC champion then countered by saying he would accept that co-headline spot — as long as he got an equity share in the company.
White quickly shot that down in an interview with TMZ while adding that he’s never really had a serious conversation with McGregor about owning a stake in the UFC.
“You know, I was surprised,” White said about McGregor’s sudden retirement. “It came out of nowhere last night. A lot of people were speculating that it was posturing because of negotiations but we really haven’t been negotiating that hard. He said that in Chicago, I saw that and he sent me a text. I’ve never had a bad conversation with Conor McGregor since he’s been in the UFC.
“He went back and he said, ‘I feel like I should own a piece of the company’ and I said, ‘Conor, you know that’s never gonna happen’. But this was a couple weeks ago. And then last night when he did that but listen, I don’t know why everybody’s so shocked about it. When you think about it, ever since the Floyd Mayweather fight, I’ve been saying you don’t know if this guy’s ever gonna fight again. He’s fought twice since he won in 2016.”
White says that an ownership stake in the UFC has never been part of his negotiations with McGregor so he’s not sure that really played a part in his retirement announcement.
The UFC sold for just over $4 billion in 2016 and with a new seven-year broadcast deal in place with ESPN, the company is likely valued at an even higher number now than it was three years ago.
If McGregor wants to own a piece of the company, White says that’s always possible assuming he’s willing to put up the money to buy it.
“Conor has never come out, sat down with me and said, ‘I want a piece of the company, here’s why.’ We’ve never had that conversation,” White said. “We did it in text two weeks ago. Like I said, I’ve never had a bad conversation with Conor McGregor in the entire time he’s been in this company. You know I love the guy. He’s got plenty of money, if he wants to retire, that’s his decision. I always say, when you talk about retirement, it’s probably something you should do if that’s what you’re thinking.
“If you want to own a piece of the company, you’d have to put up the money to buy a piece of the company. That’s how it works. These are all parts of negotiation. If you wanted to buy into the UFC right now, the valuation is pretty huge.”
Deep down, White knows that McGregor is a born competitor who still loves to fight but after already making nine figures in his career with more money pouring in every day thanks to his signature brand of whiskey as well as several other businesses, maybe it is the right time to retire.
“He is passionate about fighting. When you look at his Instagram, he’s always training, he’s in great shape,” White said. “This isn’t just like any other sport. This is a tough sport. He has the opportunity to sit back, he has enough money to do whatever he wants to do.
“His whiskey is killing it and doing really well right now. I’m sure he’s going to be successful at whatever he decides to do.”