It’s the day after the night before and it would appear Conor McGregor has in fact announced his retirement from MMA. It was not an elaborate hoax after all and Dana White has even confirmed Conor is being pulled from the UFC200 card.

Cue the inquest and inevitable conspiracy theories.

Conor McGregor (left) and Nate Diaz square off. Pic by Credit: James Armstrong

Conor McGregor (left) and Nate Diaz square off. Pic by Credit: James Armstrong

I look at 5 possible reasons that may be behind Conor’s apparent retirement:

  1. It would certainly appear that Conor is used to getting his own way of late and refusing to fly to Vegas to fulfill his PR obligations for UFC200 has probably caused Dana to pull rank on the Irishman for the first time.  This could have rattled Conor’s cage leading the featherweight champ to throw his toys out of the pram in a “Let’s see how the UFC get’s on without me at UFC200” scenario.
  2. Conor went on record at the start of his UFC career saying that he would “get in, get rich and get out”, suggesting that he would not hang around the fight game too long. The Notorious was in the arena in Dublin earlier this month when Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho unfortunately passed away in hospital after sustaining injuries in his bout with Charlie Ward.  This may have given Conor food for thought and after all, money can’t buy health.
  3. This theory is a little more elaborate but worth throwing out there. Dana White promised that the UFC200 card would blow fans minds and it hasn’t thus far; the majority of fans were disappointed to hear the headline bout would be a fairly pointless rematch between McGregor and Nate Diaz.  There has been a lot of talk surrounding the return of GSP recently so it may be that the following series of events plays out in the coming days:  the UFC match Diaz with someone else, Dana and Conor make amends just as GSP announces his return to the Octagon. Conor fights GSP in the main event.
  4. UFC New York. The UFC have lobbied for an event in New York for many years now and fans will finally see it happen this year at Madison Square Gardens on November 12th. Again, this is another elaborate theory but it may be that the Conor being pulled out of UFC200 gives the promotion the time to convince McGregor to return to action and headline the most important card of 2016. New York has a huge Irish population and if Conor had to defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar, an East coast MMA legend, then the PPV numbers would be epic. Of course, Frankie has to beat Jose Aldo for the interim title first.
  5. Conor never dreamed that losing to Nate Diaz was even remotely possible but Nate more than held his own and submitted McGregor in the second round. It may be that the defeat has had a detrimental effect on McGregor’s confidence; he has been fairly quiet ever since.  Is it possible that as the fight draws closer McGregor is starting to doubt his chances in the rematch? Another welterweight clash with Diaz was always a huge risk for McGregor and the prospect of losing two in a row to Nate would certainly be a massive stain on the Irishman’s UFC legacy.

Regardless of what the real reasons behind that tweet were I suspect that there is more to come in the days ahead. I also suspect that we have not seen the last of Conor McGregor inside the UFC’s Octagon.

Let me know what you think has happened on Twitter @heffiejr