'Absolutely false': McGregor spokesperson denies timing of retirement linked to rape allegations
McGregor unexpectedly announced that he is stepping away from mixed martial arts with an overnight tweet just hours before a New York Times report dropped which linked the former two-weight UFC champion with an on-going investigation into an alleged rape in Dublin last December.
However, as reported by ESPN's Ariel Helwani, an official spokesperson for the Irishman has denied as "absolutely false" that there is any correlation between the two stories.
Statement from a spokesperson for Conor McGregor following today’s NY Times report: pic.twitter.com/aM10DAUK7I— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 26, 2019
"This story has been circulating for some time and it is unclear why it is being reported now," the statement reads.
"The assumption that the Conor retirement announcement today is related to this rumor is absolutely false. Should Conor fight in the future it must be in an environment where fighters are respected for their value, their skill, their hard work and their dedication to the sport."Also on rt.com Conor McGregor being investigated by Irish police over sexual assault - reports
Interestingly, and in the absence of further clarification, the second part of the statement appears to suggest that McGregor's stated desire "to be respected for [his] value" implies that perhaps a payment dispute with the UFC is the source of his retirement declaration. This, however, remains speculation until further word is received from either the UFC or McGregor's representatives.
The UFC have recently updated their pay-per-view model in a deal with American broadcaster ESPN+ and it is thought that this deal may cause headaches with relation to some of the UFC's top stars who have PPV benefits written into their contracts.