UFC superstar Conor McGregor abruptly announced his retirement on social media late Monday night.
On an airing of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" just a few hours earlier, McGregor -- the 30-year-old former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion -- had said, "I am set for life, my family is set for life. … We are good. But I am eager to fight, we will see what happens, I'm just staying ready."
Though McGregor’s announcement may come as a surprise to many fans, the more surprising thing would be if he actually stays retired this time. McGregor retired on Twitter in 2016, too, and it took him just two days to come out of retirement. Don’t expect a similar timeline, but it's highly unlikely we’ve seen the last of McGregor fighting in the Octagon.
UFC president Dana White issued a statement that takes McGregor's retirement announcement seriously:
McGregor's financial motivation isn't what it once was. He made roughly $100 million for a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, and he has a burgeoning liquor business, Proper No. Twelve Whiskey, which he referenced in his retirement post.
McGregor also has legal issues. The Irishman was arrested earlier this month in Miami Beach for allegedly stealing the phone of someone trying to take his photo. McGregor was charged with robbery and criminal mischief.
Still, McGregor was expected to fight in UFC later this year. Recent talks for a fight against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone fell through -- UFC announced Cerrone would fight Al Iaquinta instead -- as McGregor said he would accept a co-main event spot (the second-to-last fight on the card) in exchange for an ownership stake in UFC.
McGregor hasn't won a fight since November 2016, when he beat Eddie Alvarez to become the first UFC fighter to hold championship belts in two divisions simultaneously. In his return to UFC last October, he lost a lightweight title fight to Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor still needs to finish serving a six-month suspension for his role in a brawl after that fight.
A long hiatus for McGregor seems to be in order. Irish WWE star Finn Balor hinted at McGregor making an appearance on April 7 at WrestleMania, an event that will be headlined by former UFC star Ronda Rousey and Irish countrywoman Becky Lynch.
The most telling sign that McGregor's retirement is real will be McGregor removing himself from the drug testing pool. If and when that happens, it will signify McGregor is not planning on fighting any time soon. Until then, the MMA world should carry on as if McGregor is still playing hardball.