Conor McGregor announced his retirement from the fight game on Sunday, marking the third time in four years he has called an end to his career.
The controversial Irishman, a former two-division UFC champion, posted the news on social media immediately following the broadcast of UFC 250, which took place in Las Vegas.
McGregor, 31, previously declared he was walking away from the UFC, in 2016 and again last year, only to return. He last fought in January, when he stopped Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds to mark his comeback from a 14-month hiatus.
"Hey guys I’ve decided to retire from fighting," McGregor wrote alongside a picture taken with his mother Margaret at a fight in Las Vegas. "Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been!
"Pick the home of your dreams Mags. I love you! Whatever you desire it’s yours."
McGregor had been expected to return to action this summer, with many seeing his latest headline-grabbing move as an attempt to push the UFC into action.
The former flyweight and lightweight title-holder, whose professional record stands at 22-4, has lately called out a number of rivals, including Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. However, the pair, who hold the lightweight and interim belts respectively, are slated to meet later this year in a unification bout.
Quizzed after UFC 250 about McGregor's latest comments, UFC president Dana White said: “I’ll remind everybody that we’re in a pandemic. The world is a crazy place right now with all these things that are going on. Everybody feels this right now. There’s no fans, you can’t travel the fights around.
“But that’s Conor. You know how Conor works, that’s how he does things. And if Conor McGregor feels he wants to retire, you know my feeling about retirement: you should absolutely do it. And I love Conor. There’s a handful of people who have made this really fun for me, and he’s one them.”
Despite his relative inactivity of late, McGregor remains one of UFC's prize attractions. Only last week, White credited the southpaw for the rise in purses in the sport, while he has numerous lucrative ventures outside the octagon.
"I heard some information today, which was funny it was today,” White said. “Proper 12 [drinks business] has sold an obscene amount. I don’t know what his financial situation is with that thing, but I would imagine he owns a good piece of it.
“Conor McGregor’s not going to need any money any time soon. He loves to fight, he’s passionate about it, he’s got an incredible fighter IQ. But when you say you want to retire, don’t worry about it. You do your thing. It’s all good.”
As the UFC continues without fans in attendance, and travel restrictions in place amid the coronavirus crisis, its summer schedule is still unclear. On Saturday, a report in Brazil claimed "Fight Island" – a venue built outside the United States designed to allow international fighters to compete – would be staged in Abu Dhabi, although White said he would confirm its location only later this week.
Pressed on McGregor, and what might have prompted Sunday's shock announcement, White said: “He’s been wanting to fight. He’s frustrated because he wants to fight. I’m sure that is a piece of it. It’s not that we can’t have him fight, but who do you want to fight right now? Fight [Tony] Ferguson? He had called out [Jorge] Masvidal. Who do you fight right now, and where do we fight Conor McGregor right now? Fight Island isn’t even up and running until July.
“So if you look at all the problems to run a business like this, multiply it by a million and that’s where we’re at. It’s a wacky time to be putting on live sports right now. The amount of people I have gunning for me right now is insane. I don’t [care]. I'm trying my best to keep the train on the tracks."
Gaethje, who has been tipped to face McGregor if Nurmagomedov can’t fight, or after that particular bout should he defeat the unbeaten Russian, tweeted: “Thankfully all of the elderly are still hiding in their homes. This guy is on another bender.”
One of the most polarising figures in mixed martial arts, McGregor has also crossed over into boxing. In August 2017, he lost to former five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr and has since teased another foray into the sport.