“I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”
On April 19th of 2016, then UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor sent the sports world into total meltdown with one tweet and these three simple sentences. That’s no exaggeration. McGregor had yet to reach the pinnacle of his fame and his social media following was a fraction of what it is today in the post-MayMac era, but this particular post was retweeted more than Kobe Bryant’s retirement announcement in 2015 – the most retweeted tweet of any athlete in the world that year.
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya's later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
What followed was a period of hysterical speculation, with McGregor avoiding the media (well, most of the media) in the isolation of his Icelandic training camp. Some early reports suggested that the retirement was real. The fact that he was only a few weeks removed from watching a tragic fight between his teammate Charlie Ward and Joao Carvalho, shortly after which Carvalho died, made these reports easier to believe.
Eventually it emerged that McGregor had become embroiled in conflict with UFC higher ups when he refused to abandon his training in Iceland to fly to a Las Vegas press conference to promote his scheduled rematch with recent conqueror Nate Diaz at UFC 200. The tweet was McGregor playing hardball. The UFC played back, however, and McGregor was dramatically removed from the massive July card. This caused further furor, with some fans even going so far as to start a petition to get the Irishman reinstated.
Following a lengthy stand-off, McGregor and UFC brass patched things up the following month. The SBG Ireland star’s rematch with Diaz was subsequently rebooked, although not before the Stockton native had his own run-in with the promotion, for UFC 202 in August.
The entire saga was beyond gripping and a ubiquitous presence in even the mainstream media for weeks. Yet, in spite of this fact, it was pretty much passed over in the recently released documentary ‘Conor McGregor: Notorious’.
During a recent chat with Peter Carroll of MMAFighting, the movie’s director Gavin Fitzgerald explained why one of the most dramatic periods of McGregor’s career received no air time in the feature-length presentation. The gist of his explanation was that the whole episode really wasn’t as dramatic as it seemed from the outside and, with so much to cover, the footage they did have was left on the, these days simply proverbial, cutting room floor.
“The problem with Conor is, you’re trying to tell a specific story and then he does something else. The story constantly changes. He seems to be always making headlines – good and bad – and you’ve got to roll with that,” said Fitzgerald.
“Some things happen in Conor’s life that are blown out of proportion in retrospect. When he had that brief retirement (ahead of UFC 200) it was just a tweet he had put out and then a few days later he was out of retirement again.”
“For things like that, we just chose not to put that in because nothing really happened. Everyone was going crazy back home, but there really wasn’t that much to the whole situation.”
We don’t know about you, but we’d still love to get a look at that footage.