Conor McGregor's ego might have finally gotten the better of him.
Earlier this week, the outspoken Irishman announced his retirement from the UFC via Twitter. Later that night, UFC president, Dana White, went on ESPN's SportCenter to confirm that the tweet was real, that McGregor has been pulled from the UFC 200 card.
Apparently, this was all because McGregor didn't want to participate in the UFC's multi-city world media tour.
The internet has been lit up with reactions, comments, rumors, and replacement suggestions for UFC 200.
One of those reacting to the situation is former UFC title contender Chael Sonnen, took to a live Facebook chat to talk about what he thinks led to all of this. Sonnen (who also has a successful podcast) has plenty of knowledge about how things work behind the scenes at the UFC, and is probably better remembered for his promoting ability than for his actual accomplishments inside of the Octagon:
I don't have any inside info on this. Just being around the business since the 90's, I know how it works. I know how this whole thing went down. And if I tell you what I think, I guarantee I'm 98 percent right if not 100.
Conor had a deal with the UFC. And Conor's now going back and trying to renegotiate and it just doesn't work that way. It can't. You can't write everything down, you can't get your contracts done all the time in this business. There's 500 guys under contract. There's not even that many employees in the UFC. I think there's like 340 employees with 500 fighters. There's 53 shows scheduled for a year that only has 52 weeks in the year. You have to be able to make a phone call, count on whatever the guy says, hang up the phone and that's the end of it. You have to be able to do that.
It's because of these "one phone call deals" that, according to Sonnen, McGregor thinks he can backtrack on what he's agreed on:
Conor has a contract, he made a deal, somewhere he didn't sign it. Let the promotion go out, let the money get spent and then realized ‘I've got the upper hand. Now I can come back and renegotiate. Who's going to tell me no when the advertising is already done?' That's what he did. Guaranteed. With no inside knowledge, guaranteed that's what happened.
Sonnen isn't ignorant to the business side of the sport. He was a big star in the UFC for years, and with that comes an intimate knowledge of how negotiations can happen between the management and the fighters. If his theory is right, it could substantiate the rumors that McGregor's relationship with the UFC parent company, Zuffa, was growing distant.
Sonnen made several attempts to contact McGregor during his live chat to no avail. He continued to answer questions while he attempted. One of the topics of discussion was the effects of McGregor's decision:
He might really be done...I don't know if he wants to be done. This was a negotiation tool. But he called the bluff of the wrong guys. These are gamblers man, there's rules in Vegas. If you say bet you have a bet. I mean that. You go to a casino, you don't put your money down, you tell the pit boss ‘I want that bet' if he yells the word bet you have a bet. And it goes both ways. If you win it he'll pay you...Anytime you go into a negotiation and you call someone's bluff, man you better mean it because this is what can happen.
Several UFC champions have vacated their belts for non-injury reasons over the years. In fact, McGregor would be the eighth after Shamrock, Rutten, Couture, Bustamante, Penn, Pulver, and St. Pierre.
That being, Sonnen still believes Conor McGregor made a huge error in trying to play this game:
When you get beat up by a guy, and then you agree to fight him again, and then you pull out, it really doesn't matter after that. And the miscalculation here by Conor is he's not gonna be telling his side. He's gonna be telling his side to whoever.com. He's not gonna be telling it on FS1 or ESPN or anywhere else. Those days are gone. This was a big mistake.
With McGregor out of the lineup, there's only one name that really makes sense:
Who's a good replacement for Conor? I guarantee you Georges St-Pierre's phone is blowing up right now and he's getting a big offer. That's the guy they're gonna go after.
UFC 200 is going to be THE biggest event in UFC history. With that comes a level of responsibility to deliver a big fight. Something like GSP returning or Rousey-Holm rematch, or possibly even Jone Jones and Daniel Cormier finally getting their rematch.
Whatever the UFC plans are, one things clear in Sonnen's mind: McGregor is out:
This is the biggest UFC of all time and sometimes that's a fun thing to say for promotional reasons, but it is. When you talk about the ratings, when you talk about the biggest show of all time nobody ever even brings up UFC 100 because it was such an anomaly and the numbers were so crazy that you just throw it out. It's like a curve in school. So UFC 200 you would have to imagine would be that big. He was sitting on top of the bill and this is done. The commercials are out. There's a lot of money that's already spent. There's a lot of billboards that are already up....I've known Dana since 2005. He's not putting a patch in this boat. Conor could call him right now, he's not patching up UFC 200.