In Depth

UFC star Conor McGregor 'behaving like Donald Trump'

Critics lay into 'narcissistic' fighter after it's confirmed he will not appear in Las Vegas

Ultimate Fighting Championship star Conor McGregor appears to have lost his battle with the sport's supremo, Dana White, after it was confirmed he would not be appearing at July's UFC 200 in Las Vegas after all.

The Irish fighter was thrown off the bill earlier this month for refusing to attend a press conference. He then appeared to retire from the sport, only to subsequently declare he was back on the card.

However, White has now announced that US light-heavyweights Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will top the bill and claimed McGregor only has himself to blame for missing the event.

"I didn't prevent him from fighting at UFC 200," said White. "He knew what the deal was. I told him what the deal was. He opted to do that."

He insisted McGregor would fight again and attempted to calm talk of a falling out. "I have a lot of respect for Conor," he said. "Conor and I just had – you know, you have to show up and do the PR. You have to do it."

However, the fighter's actions have come in for criticism. His attempts to dictate to the UFC were doomed to fail, says Fox Sports pundit Colin Cowherd, who says McGregor was up against not only White, but also the UFC's billionaire owner, Lorenzo Fertitta.

"Here's a rule for a 27-year-old millionaire: Don't take on a 50-year-old billionaire," he says.

McGregor believed he could dictate to the UFC but "overplayed his hand", says Luke Thomas on MMAFighting.com. Luke Kerr-Dineen of USA Today agrees, saying the UFC could not cave in to the fighter's demands or else they would have to let other stars dictate their own terms.

"McGregor has no one to blame but himself," he says. "McGregor simply forgot that he didn't make UFC what it is. On the contrary: His success is a product of UFC's growth."

The most stinging criticism comes from McGregor's homeland, where Dave Hannigan of the Irish Times compares him to Donald Trump.

Both men are possessed of "a narcissism so excessive that it's almost (if not quite) entertaining, a tendency to bloviate that inspires curious levels of devotion, and an understanding that, in the social media era, exaggeration matters more than exactitude".

And despite their "puerile trash-talking and braggadocio", both men have been found out, he continues. Trump faces a Republican party putsch that will undermine his push for the White House and McGregor, "the giddy child once thrilled to be cruising the Vegas strip in Dana White's convertible, has discovered UFC's smart business model doesn't allow anybody grow bigger than those three letters".

UFC 200: Conor McGregor tweet could force Dana White's hand

25 April

Is Conor McGregor back on the bill for UFC 200? The fighter believes he is and posting a tweet saying so.

However, there has been no word from Ultimate Fight Club supremo Dana White, who ditched McGregor from the event earlier in the month.

And not everyone is convinced the erratic Irishman may be back in the fold.

"The announcement with no further confirmation was greeted by doubts about its sincerity if not its authenticity," says Gareth A Davies of the Daily Telegraph.

McGregor has become the hottest property in UFC in recent years, but after dominating the featherweight division, his attempt to move up to welterweight went badly wrong when he lost to Nate Diaz in March.

The pair were due to clash for a second time in Las Vegas in July, but McGregor was dumped after reportedly refusing to attend a press conference, amid talk of a falling out with White. The fighter subsequently sent a tweet hinting at retirement before changing his mind with an incendiary message on social media in which he took issue with the UFC.

"I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. It is time for the other monkeys to dance," he said.

However, McGregor now believes he has been reinstated, possibly because of events elsewhere.

"While there has been speculation Jon Jones could step into the main event at UFC 200 to fight for the light heavyweight title, the former champion's laboured win over Ovince Saint Preux on Sunday may have prompted White to give his most bankable asset another chance," says The Guardian. Diaz, meanwhile, made it clear he had no intention of fighting anyone other than McGregor.

However, website Give Me Sport notes that McGregor has past form of announcing fights that have not happened. In 2014, he said he was to fight Diego Sanchez at UFC 180 but did not.

"Like the boy who cried wolf, McGregor's erratic social media activity over the years has meant it is always a risk to take his messages as gospel," says the website.

It could also be an attempt to force White's hand, says Conor Malone of Pundit Arena. "McGregor has somewhat backed White and [UFC co-owner Lorenzo] Fertitta into a corner," he says, as most people want the Irishman to fight and the situation is now highly political.

"A UFC 200 with McGregor as the headliner may very well be seen as a serious blow to Dana White's ego and even authority within the promotion," adds Malone. It would also elevate McGregor to even greater status within the organisation.

"However, if the promotion were to hold firm on their position and we don't see McGregor in July, this would leave McGregor's reputation in dispute, causing serious damage to his credibility and image."

Conor McGregor 'quits UFC' - is he at war with Dana White?

20 April

Ultimate Fighting Championship star Conor McGregor will not fight Nate Diaz in Las Vegas this summer, as rumours grew that he has quit the sport.

According to the official version of events, the Irishman was removed from the UFC 200 card for refusing to attend a promotional press conference in Las Vegas.

However, McGregor, who has been training for the rematch in Iceland, fuelled speculation he was walking away from the sport with a cryptic tweet:

UFC supremo Dana White told ESPN that McGregor was pulled from the 9 July event after he refused to honour his media commitments.

"Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial and be a part of the marketing," he said. "He's in Iceland, training.

"Is Conor retiring? Only he can answer that question. I don't know."

White denied claims of a rift between the two men and insisted he had a "good relationship" with the fighter, but said promotional obligations were mandatory.

"The UFC has faced a similar situation before," notes ESPN. "Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz's older brother, was pulled from a title fight against Georges St-Pierre in 2011 after he skipped a news conference."  Diaz was later put back on the bill.

Some think McGregor's tweet may have been prompted by a row with White. Colin Cowherd, of Fox Sports, said he believed it was sent in the heat of the moment after a row between the two men.

Fellow Fox pundit Laurie Williams agreed and suggested McGregor was making a "power-play" against the UFC, which exerts huge control over its fighters.

McGregor, however, "doesn't feel in any way like he 'needs' the UFC", says Williams. "He could walk away and live an unknown life for the next decade, then declare that he'd like a fight, and he'd have every organisation on Earth begging for his signature."

The bookies have taken the fighter's announcement with a pinch of salt. Paddy Power is offering odds of 4-1 on that he will compete in the UFC again.

"The question is, is this all a carefully choreographed publicity stunt with both fighters and the UFC chiefs all in on it?" asks the Daily Mirror.

The paper also puts forward an alternative, sobering reason for the Irishman's reluctance to get back into the octagon. "McGregor was rocked by the death of Portuguese [Mixed Martial Arts] fighter Joao Carvalho in Dublin recently," it says.

Carvalho died after a bout with Charlie Ward and McGregor, who attended the fight, described the tragedy as a "bitter pill to swallow".

 

UFC star Conor McGregor set to embark on film career

16 December

UFC man of the moment Conor McGregor could follow up his devastating win over Jose Aldo in the octagon with an assault on the silver screen, according to celebrity gossip websites.

Fellow cage fighting star Ronda Rousey, who was dethroned as world champion last month when she lost to Holly Holm, has already begun forging a film career and is set to star in two movies next year and McGregor could follow in her footsteps with a part in Vin Diesel's latest project, a follow up to his 2002 action adventure xXx, called xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

"The Irish superstar has said that Hollywood has been knocking on his door for a while," reports website TMZ. "And Vin Diesel is a huge fan when it comes to putting fighters in his flicks."

It goes on to claim that McGregor, 27, has "verbally agreed to play a role in the flick, though it's unclear how big of a part it will be", before noting that his participation in the film is far from certain.

But TMZ is obviously keen to milk McGregor for all he is worth, and also reports that Mark Wahlberg is a fan of the plumber-turned-cagefighter. It boldly claims that Wahlberg is "already considering Conor for a role" and announces that the former model and rapper believes McGregor could be a "great" actor "if he gets the right role".

McGregor could, however, find himself with time on his hands after it was revealed he damaged his left wrist during the 13 seconds it took him to beat Aldo in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The Irishman "will have an x-ray on his left wrist to determine the extent of the injury... with a possible six-month suspension in the pipeline for the featherweight champion", reports The Independent.

The paper says that McGregor was lining up a fight as soon as April, but may be forced to delay it if he does have an injury.

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