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8 Jun, 2020 15:13

We've been here before with Conor McGregor's 'retirement' talk... people care less and less

We've been here before with Conor McGregor's 'retirement' talk... people care less and less

For the third time in four years Conor McGregor has announced his retirement, but given his previous reversal on similar announcements, is there anything to suggest this isn't just another case of the boy who cried wolf?

It's often said that the most powerful negotiation tactic available to a fighter is a stubborn willingness to withdraw from talks should demands not be met and amid a growing feeling of discontent from some of the UFC's top fighters, this is a strategy being used by some of the organization's most well-known names.

Jon Jones, Henry Cejudo and Jorge Masvidal have all voiced concerns in recent weeks regarding fighter pay, with Jones stating that he was relinquishing his 205lbs title, Cejudo announcing his retirement and Masvidal requesting his release from the company. 

The stances of those fighters appeared to be echoed by McGregor over the weekend after he issued his latest threat to step away from the sport in which he made his name, saying that he doesn't feel the same passion for fighting that he did in the past.

"Hey guys I’ve decided to retire from fighting," McGregor wrote in a tweet issued early on Sunday. "Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been! Here is a picture of myself and my mother in Las Vegas post one of my World title wins! Pick the home of your dreams Mags I love you! Whatever you desire it’s yours."

Also on rt.com 'I don't give a f*ck': 'Bored' McGregor says UFC 'doesn't excite him' as he explains retirement announcement

McGregor's missive was predictably seized upon by media across the globe given the Irishman's superstar status, but what is less clear is the extent in which the UFC's first-ever 'champ champ' means it. 

The tweet has received just shy of 66,000 retweets at the time of writing, a figure which no doubt reflects McGregor's placing in the upper echelon of the sports world - but it perhaps worth noting that McGregor's previous retirement announcements appeared to garner much more attention.

McGregor first retirement, which included the now infamous "thanks for the cheese" line, commanded massive interest online, tallying around 145,000 retweets. The second, issued in March of last year, drew 100,000 retweets.

There is perhaps no athletic pursuit other than the various codes of combat sport in which retirements are considered quite as temporary. In addition to McGregor, Floyd Mayweather has retired on several occasions in the past and has recently been stoking the flames of a comeback. 

Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, two of the primary names of the halcyon days of the UFC, have done the same. Mike Tyson appears on the verge of his own reemergence, a decade and a half after his last fight. 

McGregor's stance appears linked to where he currently finds himself amid the current shuffle of the UFC deck. Justin Gaethje, not McGregor, is considered the number one contender to Khabib Nurmagomedov's lightweight title. Jorge Masvidal, another potential opponent, is linked to welterweight champ Kamaru Usman (but as noted, has his own problems with the UFC hierarchy). 

This leaves the Dubliner in the peculiar position of being the UFC's top draw, but without an obvious dance partner lined up opposite him, and comes in contrast to the red carpet treatment the UFC had arranged for him in previous years.

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History suggests that an accord will be struck between McGregor and UFC, as has happened on the two previous occasions in which he has threatened to down tools, but with each passing 'retirement' and its subsequent withdrawal, McGregor's position becomes more and more watered down.  

Ever the wily promoter, Dana White will be well aware of the situation with his top commodity. In a sport where egos must be constantly massaged, he will know that McGregor's return is likely once he finds himself in a scenario amenable to his interests (and his bank balance).

What this really amounts to is a high-stakes staring contest between two of the fight game's most commanding figures.

Neither has blinked yet.