UFC in Crisis After Box Office Stars Threaten to Leave

Amanda Nunes may have made history over the weekend by defending her 145-pound belt against Felicia Spencer - becoming the first fighter in UFC history to successfully hold and defend titles in two weight classes - but, it was UFC star Conor Mcgregor who stole the headlines from UFC 250 after announcing his retirement. Again.

At 6am (BST), less than an hour before UFC 250 had ended, Mcgregor abruptly announced that he would be leaving the UFC and that he will be retiring from MMA. Meaning that UFC president, Dana White, didn’t have long to celebrate yet another successful event.

The news is the latest chapter in the UFC’s sticky history with fighters over pay disputes, contract negotiation breakdowns and lawsuits. McGregor’s spat is just the latest issue White has had to deal with in recent days as UFC fighters' uproars put Dana in crisis.

It’s not the first time that McGregor has announced his retirement on social media. The former two-division UFC world champion had previously announced his retirement from the sport in March 2019, before making a comeback to the octagon earlier this year to fight Donald Cerrone and win convincingly inside one round.

And in 2016, he tweeted, "I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya's later."

The Irishmen had planned to fight three times this year but like many, Covid-19 has sidelined any short-term plans and now “The Notorious” has decided to call it a day and hang up his gloves. He told ESPN: "I'm a bit bored of the game. I watched the last show - the Woodley-Burns show - I watched the show tonight (UFC 250). I'm just not excited about the game.

"I don't know if it's no crowd, I don't know what it is, there's just no buzz for me.

The game just does not excite me, and that's that. All this waiting around; there's nothing happening, I'm going through opponent options, and there's nothing really there at the minute. There's nothing that's exciting me."

Personally, I'm not buying into Mcgregor’s announcement. I believe it's another marketing stunt to soak up any extra attention he can get. He’s already “pulled out” three times before and I think he’s just getting a bit fed up like the rest of us sitting at home, not being able to get out there into our regular day to day routines. Granted, he has earned enough money and solidifies a comfortable spot in Forbes top richest athletes, but he has been for years now and he still came back to fight earlier this year - and least to say, looked phenomenal.

If McGregor wants to fight then give the man a fight Dana, he's the top dog in the UFC and why would you keep him sidelined until after Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov have fought? It doesn’t make any sense. He should be priority No.1 right now and if you can't give him the Khabib or Justin fight, then give him Nate Diaz, a man he has promised a trilogy fight with.

On May 31st, current light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones posted the beginning of a string of tweets confirming that he will vacate his belt amid pay disputes with the UFC. The 32-year-old had been pushing for a mega-fight with heavyweight sensation Francis Ngannou. However, he's made it public that the UFC are not willing to pay him more money as Dana White confirmed Jones was asking for “Wilder” money, between $15-$30 million.

Jones and White have been back and forth for a while now over Jones’ pay dispute and I feel like the UFC owes it to him to give him the fight he and the fans want. I totally understand Jones issue with the UFC. He has been a predominant figure in the organization for over a decade now and boasts a record of 26 wins and 1 loss (due to disqualification) that many people, myself included felt like it was a robbery. He’s 32 years old now, torn up the division, beaten UFC veterans and dismantled every up and coming fighter in the past ten years. The man has nothing to prove apart from being labelled as a “g.o.a.t” in MMA history. He is potentially going into his last few years in his prime and if you were him, you would want to make sure your future is settled so you never have to work a day in your life ever again.

Despite feeling short-changed, Dana white has recently managed to fork out god knows how much on a private island named “Fight Island”, where he will host future UFC events, with many rumours circulating could make its debut on the July 11 UFC 251 card. Speaking to “Talk Talk podcast”, here's what White had to say: “Let me tell you about ‘Fight Island.’ ‘Fight Island’ is so f**king expensive and so f**king crazy and almost impossible to pull off”.

No wonder the UFC bread-makers are coming after Dana.

According to reports, the UFC only pays 16% of its £710 million revenue to fighters and in contrast, other sporting bodies such as the National Football League or the Major league Baseball pay between 48%-50% of their revenue to players. In 2014, fighters had already filed a lawsuit accusing the UFC of "illegally maintaining monopoly and monopsony power by systematically eliminating competition from rival promoters, artificially suppressing fighters’ earnings from bouts and merchandising and marketing activities through restrictive contracting and other exclusionary practices".

Current welterweight and title contender, Jorge Masival, has also come out from the sticks to issue his concerns with the UFC over the breakdown in talks between a potential fight with current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman as negotiations hit the skids.

Just like White had refused to give into Jones’ demand, the UFC president has also given Masvidal the same treatment, stating that he isn't forcing the pair to come out and fight.

The turn of the decade proved to be a huge year for “gamebred” Jorge Masival, fresh off back to back spectacular performances. The year 2020 was being labelled as Masvidal’s year, shooting to fame and cementing a spot as an A-list UFC fighter on the current roster after jumping to pond to fight up-and-coming welterweight Darren Till in London, resulting in a devasting knockout victory and then a few months later, mauling UFC veteran Nate Diaz; the guy famous for choking Conor McGregor out, to become the BMF champion (Baddest Mother *ucker).

Speaking to ESPN, Jorge made it clear that the numbers the UFC were offering him were far adrift from what he values himself as to fight Kamaru Usman. Although I doubt Dana White would want to let Jorge go, If it came to releasing one between Jorge, Conor and Jon, I feel like Dana would prefer to release Jorge as he has less to give the UFC in the long run. Although nothing has been finalized there has been speculation that Jorge could tie-up with Bellator, so we will have to keep tabs on that movement.

So, Jones is threatening to drop his belt, Masvidal is asking for his release and Mcgregor has dropped another retirement bomb. Dear oh dear, 2020 keeps getting worse. I am most confident we will see Conor fighting this year, and least confident of seeing Jorge stepping back into the ring. They need to do Masvidal vs Usman next on July 11 and why? Because none of the big names are ready to fight apart from them and there's no chance the UFC would chuck their biggest star in Mcgregor into such a big fight on a months' notice. If they don’t make that fight, which has to be announced soon and Usman moves onto Gilbert Burns, then I'll be worried about Masvidal’s future with the UFC. With Conor, well he wants a return back to the cage and the UFC wants to make money so I assume both works out their differences like they have in the past and they put the show back over on Fight Island. For Jones, despite me feeling like he’ll sit out for a while, Dana will give him more money and there will come a point where he will want to get back into the cage and cement his status as the greatest mixed martial artist to ever grace the sport.

This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk