As it turns out, Conor McGregor, just as many predicted, is not retiring, and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll fight at UFC 200 – regardless of what Dana White said earlier this week.
“In all my years covering the UFC – which, I started in 2001 – I’ve never seen Dana White or Lorenzo (Fertitta) in a position of weakness,” MMA Noise host Mike Straka said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And the fact that they took him off the UFC 200 card – which is the most historic card since UFC 100 and he was headlining it at 170 against Nate Diaz in a rematch – it actually boggles my mind, to be totally honest with you. But to answer your question, he gets back on the card. There’s no doubt in my mind. As much as Dana and Lorenzo are the toughest guys in the UFC, Conor McGregor is the cash cow, and as you said, he is as greedy as they come. He love his money, he loves his custom suits, he loves to flash his watches and talk about how much money he makes. There’s no way this fight gets away from either party.”
McGregor reportedly retired because he was fed up with his promotion-heavy schedule. Straka, however, doesn’t think that tells the whole story.
“Some people tell me that Conor wants $10 million for this fight, and the UFC balked so he said, ‘Fine, I’m not going to fight,’” Straka said. “If you listen to Conor’s side, he just didn’t want to come to Las Vegas or LA to do any promotion. He’s in Iceland with Gunnar Nelson, who’s a black belt. Gunnar Nelson trains in Iceland with his father, and his father is Conor’s former manager and they train together. They’re teammates. They’ve done this for years. But for Conor to stay in Iceland and not do the promotion, it’s so uncharacteristic. But it also tells you he’s afraid of Nate Diaz.”
That’s right. Straka believes that McGregor, who had won 15 straight matches before losing at UFC 196, is afraid of Diaz.
The crazy thing is, Straka may be right.
“He beat up Nate Diaz so badly in that fight in that first round and Nate just took it and came back and choked him out in the second round,” Straka said. “Conor McGregor only has three losses. All of those losses were submission losses. One was a knee bar, one was an arm bar, and one was a rear-naked choke. Conor does not like to go down to the mat. Nate Diaz is a black belt under Cesar Gracie. There’s no way he’s ever going to beat Nate on the ground. So what he did was he beat up Nate, gave him everything he got, Nate took it all, took him down and choked him out.
“So what he’s doing in Iceland is he’s brushing up his jiu-jitsu with Gunnar Nelson, and I personally don’t blame the guy,” Straka continued. “If I’m fighting Nate Diaz, I’ll spend as much time as I can on the mat. I fought him once before, I beat his ass, he still came back and choked me out. So obviously the weight at 170 is way too much for Conor. He’s a stud at 145. He’s been ducking Frankie Edgar, to be honest with you, because Frankie is a tough fighter and he’s a great wrestler. But get Conor on the mat and he’ll choke him out.”
Scott Ferrall wonders why McGregor didn’t try to fight Diaz at 155.
“Well, if he fights at 155 and loses, then he never has a chance at the 155 belt,” Straka said. “So he can fight at 170, and even if he loses, he can say, ‘Well, I have an excuse. That weight is too much for me. Let me go down and fight Rafael dos Anjos for the 155-pound title, which was originally scheduled for the last fight and dos Anjos broke his foot. That’s why he ended up fighting Nate Diaz at 170. If Conor loses again to Nate, he still has that excuse. That’s why he’s taking this fight at 170 – because he’s got nothing to lose.”