In a recent interview, UFC featherweight champ Conor McGregor said that UFC 200 "bombed" without him on the card. He added that the fights that night just "weren't great."
"They didn't put me on the card — that's OK —and the card bombed. I was ringside. The fights weren't great, but now here we are," McGregor told GQ Magazine.
UFC President Dana White pulled McGregor from the card after the fighter refused to attend a pre-fight press conference. White said that the one thing that is mandatory in MMA is that fighters must do publicity work to promote fights. A few days later, McGregor tweeted that he was retiring. Now he admits that was all a publicity stunt.
"I was never really retired," McGregor explained in the interview, as reported by foxsports.com. "That was more just a negotiation type thing. It was a little bit of a joke, to be honest. And then it just blew the [expletive] up."
UFC 200, according to The Wrestling Observer, did roughly 1.2 million PPV buys, one of the company's biggest PPV numbers ever. It did, however, fall short of UFC 100, which did 1.6 million PPV buys.
Jon Jones was also dropped from the card after a reported USADA violation, leaving Daniel Cormier to fight Anderson Silva. Cormier won by unanimous decision. The fight was a mismatch considering that Silva took the fight on a just a couple of days notice, and in a weight class above where he spent most of his career.
Brock Lesnar also returned at UFC 200 to dominate Mark Hunt, but Lesnar too later reportedly failed two drug tests.
All is well now in the UFC, however. McGregor will fight Diaz August 20 at UFC 202, in a rematch that observers believe could beat UFC 200's PPV buy rate. McGregor has emerged as the sport's biggest attraction, but it remains to be seen if his loss to Diaz in March will hurt his ability to draw PPV numbers.