Belfast Telegraph

Conor McGregor is playing a high stakes poker game

By Pat Smith

A brief tweet is not how Conor McGregor says goodbye to MMA.

The internet went into meltdown on Tuesday evening when UFC's leading man, Irishman Conor McGregor, sent out a jaw dropping, and slightly cryptic, 13-word tweet that said: "I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya's later."

It sent fans' imaginations into overdrive. There was bizarre talk of failed drug tests and positive paternity tests.

There was the notion that the former plumber fell out of love with the sport that claimed the life of Joao Carvalho just last weekend in Dublin.

But for those who really know the sport? No chance.

The most talked-about athlete in the sport does not go on the run that he just had and end it after his first defeat in the UFC. His legacy would be ruined.

The man who defeated the previously unbeaten José Aldo in 13 seconds does not "retire" 81 days before he has the chance to avenge his still-hard-to-take defeat to Nate Diaz at 170lbs last month in Las Vegas.

This is an easy enough camp for McGregor. There are no punishing weight cuts to be made.

The Dubliner, who can command close to €7m per fight, does not hang up his 4oz gloves on the cusp of headlining UFC 200, the first ever event at the newly-built T-Mobile Arena just off the Las Vegas strip.

UFC President Dana White broke silence in the early hours of yesterday morning - but at no point did he mention the featherweight belt.

The notion that the already-arranged Aldo v Edgar fight would now become a title bout was non existent.

And late last night White again spoke in the US to state that he does not believe that McGregor, one of his biggest stars, is truly retired.

As more time elapses since that initially shocking tweet, this increasingly looks like it is just posturing at the highest level.

It's a heads up game of poker, and it is McGregor and White at the table.

It is a good old-fashioned 'listen here pal, mine is bigger than yours' schoolyard argument between the Dublin-born icon and his multi-millionaire employers in the UFC.

There is no kiss and tell scandal or secret drug addiction.

The most X-rated thing about the 27-year-old superstar is his fashion sense.

However, this is about money, and lots of it.

Belfast Telegraph


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