It's the Perfect Time for McGregor's Sabbatical

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC

Ever since Conor McGregor’s super-fight with Eddie Alvarez was set in late September for the landmark event UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, we have been preparing ourselves for a big announcement from the Irishman.

Dana White was the first to shake the boat when he revealed that McGregor would make an announcement “from left field” following the fight, days after the lightweight title fight was confirmed.

After underlining his intent to make McGregor defend or vacate his featherweight title on several occasions before the Diaz rematch, White offered McGregor’s impending news as the reason why he allowed him to hold onto his belt.

“Listen, I battled this thing forever,” White told WFAN’s ‘Outside the Cage’ podcast. 

“Not only is it not fair to Jose Aldo, it’s not fair to Khabib and Max Holloway. So, believe me, I battled with this thing but there are, how can I say this? There are other circumstances involved in this that will be played out after the fight.

“It’s something completely out of left field but it’s Conor’s business, it’s not mine, and I’ll let Conor announce it when he’s ready to.”


White’s revelation led to numerous speculated storylines, with the most publicized being McGregor’s long-time partner, Dee Devlin, falling pregnant.

The ‘Talk MMA’ twitter page, who later falsely reported that McGregor had been knocked out in training on the day of NSAC hearing earlier this month, alleged that ‘The Notorious’ and Devlin were expecting their first born, which led to a series of reports from numerous showbiz and entertainment publications.

There are plenty of people who believe that McGregor’s wish for some time off could also be a ploy to give him more bargaining chips the next time he sits down at the negotiation table with UFC. Others believe that Irishman is looking to pursue options outside of fighting, which is definitely possible given that the Irishman was already courted for a role in the XXX sequel, a part that was eventually given to Michael Bisping when McGregor pulled out.

Yesterday, the Irish arm of The Sun, the publication that told us that Mayweather and McGregor were “set to go toe-to-toe in the summer” back in May, revealed some vague comments from a “source” that has added further fuel to the fire that surrounds McGregor’s future.

According to the report, McGregor wants to “spawn a few world champions” and is “determined to take time out”.

The source added: “And after UFC 205 is the perfect time to start. He’s telling people he wants time out. It’s unlikely to be permanent, but the time is right to step back for a while.

“He knows that if he wins UFC 205 he can always come back in a year or two for a mega money fight. He could name his price. He’ll be back.”


There will undoubtedly be some serious fallout if McGregor manages to capture Alvarez’s title only to begin his sabbatical.

There have been ample critics regarding his failure to defend the featherweight title. Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway are just some of the names that have been obscured by his multi-division assault, with Aldo even claiming that he would retire from the sport for his treatment by the promotion while he sought a rematch with the Dubliner.

Similarly, Khabib Nurmagomedov felt that he had been used as bait to make Alvarez sign on the dotted line for the McGregor fight, and his chances of fighting the legitimate champion could get knocked on the head if McGregor’s rumored exit is true.

Regardless of how anybody else feels, McGregor’s activity since claiming the interim title over Chad Mendes last July has been quite astonishing. Having fought four times in just over a calendar year, unprecedented for a champion, and taken more significant damage in his two bouts with Diaz than he had in the entirety of the rest of his professional fights, the time is probably right for him to step back for a while.

Given his proven pulling power, he has been instrumental in two of the UFC’s top three PPV’s to date, he will always garner crossover attention that no one bar Ronda Rousey can rival. A year without McGregor could make him even more of a commodity to the UFC, but they will certainly have to make his return worth his while if he does follow through with his rumored stint away from the sport.

It could also usher in a new approach for fighters, like McGregor, who are at the pinnacle of the sport. Rather than waiting for their winning momentum to be tainted to pursue other options and take a break, a victorious McGregor would leave New York with more fanfare than ever before, which could lead to an amazing amount of offers from various avenues outside of the fight game.


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