Conor McGregor has been sensationally pulled from his UFC 200 rematch against Nate Diaz after claiming he has decided to “retire young”.
The UFC featherweight champion sparked a social media frenzy after posting a cryptic tweet on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old wrote: “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya’s later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
UFC President Dana White appeared to confirm that the tweet was genuine as he announced that McGregor had been pulled from UFC 200.
White said the decision was made by the promotion after the Irishman informed UFC officials that he would not participate in any promotional activities, including a commercial shoot and press conferences.
UFC President Dana White explains why McGregor has been pulled from #UFC200. https://t.co/Fm7XfjrOYY
— UFC (@ufc) April 20, 2016
Speaking on ESPN’s SportsCenter Tuesday evening, White said: “Obviously, we still have a good relationship with Conor.
“I respect Conor as a fighter and I like him as a person. But you can’t decide not to show up to these things. You have to do it.”
McGregor is believed to be in Iceland, where he posted a picture on Monday night to say he was “back in the land of Ice for some good training at Mjolnir”.
A report in Iceland suggested that McGregor had refused to speak to a journalist moments after his tweet, reportedly saying: “No, I’m retired, f*** interviews” .
Within minutes of the Twitter post on Tuesday night, fans went into meltdown with many doubting the validity of the UFC featherweight champion’s message.
Although it is unknown yet whether McGregor is being serious, his post was enough to cause serious panic and confusion among MMA supporters.
Back in the land of Ice for some good training at Mjolnir!! #TheIceViking pic.twitter.com/zXKy3vN6Qv
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 18, 2016
His coach John Kavanagh also added fuel to the fire as he posted a brief message on Twitter.
He wrote: “Well was fun while it lasted”.
Kavanagh followed that up on his Facebook account, writing: “Mate of mine did his 1st year apprenticeship in plumbing a few years back. Looking to start up again if anyone can help.”
Well was fun while it lasted
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) April 19, 2016
Respected MMA reporter Ariel Helwani insisted McGregor’s message was NOT a prank, suggesting multiple sources were adamant that the tweet was not a joke.
Multiple sources are adamant at this time that McGregor’s tweet isn’t a joke, troll job or hoax of any kind. Reason(s) behind it is unclear.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) April 19, 2016
McGregor was set to face Diaz at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas, in a rematch the sporting world had been relishing.
Diaz stunned McGregor into his first UFC defeat by a rear-naked choke submission when the American conquered the Irishman at UFC 196 last month.
Diaz took the fight at just two weeks notice after McGregor’s initial opponent, lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos pulled out with a broken foot injury.
Reacting to his rival’s words, Diaz posted a tweet an hour later saying: “I guess my work here is done. I’m retiring too”.
I guess my work here is done I’m retiring too
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz)
McGregor was recently rocked by the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho in Dublin. Carvalho, 28, died just days after competing at a Total Extreme Fighting event, in which he suffered a technical knockout with tragic consequences by one of McGregor’s team-mate’s, Charlie Ward.
McGregor described the loss as a “bitter pill to swallow”. He added, “we have lost one of us”.
Mirror Sport attempted to contact Team McGregor but they could not be reached for comment.
Bosses at the gym where he trains were baffled by the tweet.
And his father Tony added fuel to the fire by saying “My lips are sealed” when asked if the rumours were true.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan also reacted to the news, saying that he believes McGregor has no plans to retire immediately and is “trolling”.
Speaking on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, he added: “He’s decided to retire young which means like 34.
“Unless he got f*****g head-kicked today and knocked into oblivion, the idea that he’s going to go out on a loss like that to Nate Diaz .”
Rogan added that the only reason he believes McGregor would retire was the recent death of the Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho in Dublin.
He said: “There was a point in time where he had some friends that were experiencing some serious health issues from fighting. “Then, most recently, that young man died in an MMA contest.
“I think he trained with (the opponent of) the Portuguese guy who died recently. It is entirely possible in that sense but, if I had to guess, there’s no way he’d do it like this.”