Is Conor McGregor actually retired this time? The UFC community seems skeptical

UFC 250 was a hard-hitting spectacle — and Conor McGregor made sure he stole the show.

The Irishman wasn’t on the card, of course, but just minutes after Amanda Nunes‘ championship defense on Saturday night, McGregor decided to announce his retirement:

Now, here’s the thing. If this is the end, then the MMA world will undoubtedly miss the enthralling former UFC Featherweight and Lightweight Champion, who went 22-4-0 in the Octagon.

But with McGregor, it’s not so simple. In fact, this is the third time the Notorious One has called it quits in the past four years — first, in 2016, after a second-round submission loss to Nate Diaz in a non-title fight  …

…then again in 2019, in the midst of a contract dispute, before coming back to face Donald Cerrone in a 40-second knockout win:

And this time, like the previous two retirements, there’s a lot of speculation that McGregor could be working an angle.

After all, he hasn’t been shy about wanting to fight Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight championship in July, likely on Dana White’s infamous “Fight Island” — a fight McGregor alluded to in comments to ESPN about his most recent retirement:

“They should have just kept the ball rolling. I mean, why are they pushing [Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje] back to September? You know what’s going to happen in September, something else is going to happen in September, and that’s not going to happen. I laid out a plan and a method that was the right move, the right methods to go with. And they always want to balk at that and not make it happen or just drag it on. Whatever I say, they want to go against it to show some kind of power. They should have just done the fight — me and Justin for the interim title — and just kept the ball rolling.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated UFC light heavyweight champion, was originally scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson this spring, but the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the timing of Ramadan (Nurmagomedov is Muslim) disrupted their clash.

Presumably, McGregor would have been in line to face the winner of that bout, after having lost to Nurmagomedov in October 2018 via submission (a fight, by the way, that UFC has made available in its entirety on its YouTube channel):

Instead, Gaethje stepped in and defeated Ferguson in May for the interim title at UFC 249. And now, as McGregor mentioned, the plan seems to be for a potential unification bout between Gaethje and Nurmagedov in September — a timetable that doesn’t sit well with the former champion.

Add it all up, and those in and around UFC aren’t quite convinced McGregor’s retirement is totally legitimate, to say the least. (Warning: Some of these reactions may contain vulgar language.)

Shortly after UFC 250, legendary commentator Joe Rogan joined ESPN and flatly said he doesn’t believe McGregor is retired:

“I don’t buy it for a second. I think Conor McGregor is trying to get you to talk about him, and you just did. What better way to get people to talk about him when there’s a spectacular fight filled with people dominating? What he did was sort of hijack the whole situation by saying he’s retiring.

“I’m not buying it.”

Gaethje, meanwhile, had less than kind (and NSFW) words for his potential opponent:

And former Olympic wrestler and UFC fighter Ben Askren said McGregor is simply negotiating for that July fight:

A number of MMA journalists also added they believe McGregor will fight again, while simultaneously pointing to a growing trend of tension between UFC and its high-profile mixed martial artists:

Even McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, seemed to hint the soon-to-be 32-year-old McGregor could follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan, of all people, and come back better than ever:

As for Dana White? He’s been down this road before — so, in his postfight press conference, White wished McGregor the best, all but certainly knowing they could be in touch very, very soon.

“We’re not going anywhere. You can retire. You can say, ‘I’m not going to fight.’ You can do whatever you want right now. Nobody is pressuring anybody to fight. And if Conor McGregor feels he wants to retire, you know my feeling about retiring: You should absolutely do it.

“And I love Conor. There’s a handful of people that have made this really fun for me. And he’s one of them.”

Until then, McGregor can have his cake and eat it too … literally, apparently.

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Happy retirement, indeed, Conor!

Assuming, of course, that this is goodbye.