Since Conor McGregor joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship his relationship with the promotion has been fruitful for both parties.
From his post-fight interview following his knockout win over Marcus Brimage to the entertaining lead up to his recent fight with Nate Diaz in early March, the Dublin-born fighter is fun to watch and a money-maker for the promotion.
Things started to take a turn for the worse this past Tuesday when McGregor posted a tweet teasing an early retirement, putting his then scheduled UFC 200 rematch against Nate Diaz into jeopardy. Eventually, we came to learn that UFC president Dana White pulled McGregor from the event due to his strong disinclination with promotional obligations, preferring to stay in Iceland to train with his team.
The featherweight champion never seemed to have an issue with promoting his fights in the past, even going as far as to say he enjoyed his slander-slewing bouts with Jose Aldo, Rafael dos Anjos and Nate Diaz. Following the release of an official statement from the fighter yesterday, his approach to the media aspect of the game changed, most likely in the wake of his defeat to Diaz at UFC 196.
“I flew an entire team to Portugal and to Iceland to make my adjustments in preparation and fix my errors I made with the weight and the cardio prep,” McGregor said in an official statement.
“With the right adjustments and the right focus, I will finish what I started in that last fight.”
McGregor stated he would still face Diaz this July but with a more pulled-back media schedule, giving him more time to train for an opponent different to anyone he’s faced at 145 pounds.
Media obligations are a big part of mixed martial arts now more than ever given its growth, evolving from relaxing conference calls to full-scale world tours to promote a fight. With that said, trying to find the balance between training for a fight and promoting one becomes difficult.
It does beg the question – are strenuous media obligations a deciding factor in how a fighter performs inside the octagon? And are they even more gruelling for the likes of McGregor and Ronda Rousey, who carry the brunt of the attention? You also have to take into consideration their opponents, who, for the most part, are asked to do less press work and have more time in the gym to prepare for a fight.
At the moment it doesn’t seem the UFC are willing to play ball with McGregor and he doesn’t seem ready to entertain another fight with Diaz without a decent training camp, given how their last encounter played out.
Maybe his outburst might ruffle feathers and prompt other fighters to question the amount of time they need to forfeit outside the gym before a fight, maybe even push towards the establishment of a fighter’s union to put guidelines in place.
James McDonald, Pundit Arena