Just days ahead of the promotional kickoff for UFC 200, Conor McGregor was pulled out of his main event bout against Nate Diaz after he refused to travel to the United States to attend a press tour and film a commercial for the event.
The spat made headlines after McGregor briefly retired and then put out a very lengthy statement on why he didn’t agree with the movie after he had made the UFC so much money over the course of his career with the company.
Looking back now, McGregor doesn’t seem to have any regrets about the way the whole thing played out, but he also didn’t imagine it would escalate to the point where he’d be stuck in a standoff with his promoters.
“It was a publicized civil war. I was going through some things, there was some crazy stuff going on back home. I wanted to be focused on my training,” McGregor told ESPN on Sunday.
“I was in a time where I was like figuring out something. I didn’t just shut it out and say no to everything. I just wanted to do reasonable media. Then all of a sudden ‘Conor, it’s three months from the fight, we’ve got to drag you 40 hour flights to do a runaround, New York, Vegas, California, 70 press conferences, 70 talk shows, adverts, all of this’. I was like I only made you $400 million last week. That was only last week that fight and now you want me to go? I need to get right. That’s how it all came about. I just wanted to focus and was deep in the process and especially at that particular moment, I just wanted a little bit more time. I didn’t shut it off completely.”
At the time when the UFC was requesting McGregor to travel to the United States for the press tour, he was embedded in a training camp in Iceland alongside his long time teammate Gunnar Nelson.
It also came on the heels of a fight in Ireland where a young competitor named Joao Carvalho lost his life to one of McGregor’s teammates while the UFC featherweight champion was sitting just a few feet away while the bout took place.
Sources told FOX Sports at that time that McGregor was dealing with a lot both personally and professionally and he just wasn’t in the right head space to do a press conference a few weeks after his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
According to McGregor, he told the UFC he would do part of the media tour, but it also didn’t make sense that there was no negotiation when it came to the work he had to do just after promoting UFC 196 to record breaking numbers in March.
“Reasonable media is what I said. I said I would do New York, I said I would do everything else after that, I just needed another little bit to set myself and then the lack of communication — they were trying to push back on me, I was trying to push back on them. Then it was like it blew up then,” McGregor said.
“It blew up. I don’t know, I was just kind of having fun with that. At the start of it, it was kind of half-hearted and then all of a sudden, you’re off 200. I was like ‘all right well (expletive) you too, then’. It was fun. Seeing it all blow up like that, it was amusing for a while.”
It blew up. I don’t know, I was just kind of having fun with that. At the start of it, it was kind of half-hearted and then all of a sudden, you’re off 200. I was like ‘all right well (expletive) you too, then’. It was fun. Seeing it all blow up like that, it was amusing for a while.
McGregor was pulled from the card and the UFC moved onto a new main event pitting Daniel Cormier against Jon Jones instead.
The outspoken Irishman admits there were times in the immediate aftermath that he felt like maybe he should have just bent to the will of the promotion and done the press conferences and other obligations, but he also knows that taking a stand was really the right move in the end.
“There were times where I was like seeing the press conferences take place and I was like ‘I should have just jumped on the damn flight, I should have just stuck with it’ but sometimes you’ve got to do what’s right for you and not do what’s right for everybody else, especially if you’ve done what’s right for everybody else a million times over,” McGregor said. “You should have the right to be able do what’s right for you and that’s what I felt.”
McGregor just met with UFC president Dana White and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta this past week where the three of them sat down and tried to settle whatever bad blood boiled up over the fallout from the past few weeks.
While it seems cooler heads have prevailed, there’s still no word on McGregor’s next fight. When he was prodded about his conviction to return to the promotion one day soon, he only smiled and said that he’ll definitely fight again — he just never specifically mentioned the UFC.
“I’m committed to the fight game. I enjoy competition. I enjoy challenges so if a challenge is in front of me and it appeals to me, then I will go and I will conquer it,” McGregor said.
“I’m open to challenges. I enjoy fighting, period.”