There’s a fairly noticeable Conor McGregor-shaped gap slowly making itself more visible in recent weeks in the wake of his post-UFC 205 announcement concerning his plans for 2017.
After a dominant victory over Eddie Alvarez last month, Conor dropped the bombshell upon the MMA world that he would be taking an extended break from the sport in order to concentrate on the birth of his first child and the well-being of his girlfriend Dee Devlin, who he said was expecting in May.
McGregor, who made history that night by winning his second UFC title, seemed content to step away from the sport at the very peak of his powers. His stock, post-UFC 205, was and still is at an all-time high and in the eyes of many, he now has the type of power that has never ever been held by an athlete within the sport of mixed martial arts up until this point.
So naturally, given the highly ambitious and daring nature of the man in question, he decided to put forward his demand that he be cut in on the future earnings of the promotion, citing his role in the increased popularity of the sport as the key reason for the $4.2 billion sale of the company earlier this year.
One of his parting statements, just prior to his self-imposed hiatus, was a call to the UFC’s new owners – specifically WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel – to pick up the phone and talk to him, rather than make any specifics known immediately.
And though it is too early to tell how successful his stand-off with the UFC will be, all we can do is speculate as to what exactly he will do when he does return in May – if that even is when he plans to return.
UFC President Dana White, when speaking at the media-scrum yesterday told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that despite no confirmation on the part of the Notorious One, the word he had received from Conor was very different from what we – the MMA community – were expecting.
“The last conversation Conor and I had, he was taking 10 months off,” said White, “So everybody keeps talking about Conor, I’m not even thinking about Conor. Conor is not in my plans for the next 10 months. Listen, we run a business where we make fights. I know who’s available and who’s not available. Conor told me ‘I’m not available for 10 months. We’re having a baby, my girlfriend stresses out when I fight and I don’t want to put that on her when she’s pregnant.”
Dana seems firm in his belief that McGregor’s absence from the sport would be a long one and despite Dana’s well-known habit of bending the truth somewhat, until we hear any differently, all we can do is speculate as to what the lightweight champion’s next move will be.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena