LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor did not show up at the MGM Grand Garden for a news conference on Friday and UFC president Dana White said that as a result, the featherweight champion is officially off the July 9 UFC 200 card and won't fight Nate Diaz as planned.
White on Tuesday yanked McGregor from the card when McGregor declined to leave Iceland, where he is training, to fly to Las Vegas to do a news conference, participate in a commercial shoot and other promotional activities. On Thursday on Facebook, McGregor offered to fly to New York on Wednesday for a news conference, but said otherwise his training must take precedence.
White did say that ex-light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who faces Ovince Saint Preux Saturday for the interim title in the main event of UFC 197, could meet champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 200.
It was hardly shocking that White took the stance he did, because to allow McGregor to skip would have caused problems with many other stars, few of whom like to do such things.
White was pressed frequently about why he wouldn't let McGregor stay on the card after he skipped hte news conference, but he didn't budge.
"This thing has pretty much played out in the media," White said in response to a query from Yahoo Sports. "Anybody who is sitting up here and anybody who has fought for the UFC for the last 16 years pretty much knows we try to give as much leeway as we can on things. But you have to show up to promote the fight. You have to show up for the press conferences and shoot the commercials.
"I mean, it is too much to ask to try to shoot a commercial or try to do the promotion for the fight? A lot of these guys came here from different parts of the world. Brazil and New Jersey. These guys all came. They have better things to do. They're here. It's part of the job. It's what we do here."
White said Diaz would remain on the card against another opponent. Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler still hasn't been booked and there are rumors that ex-champion Georges St-Pierre may return to the sport.
Diaz, though, said it was McGregor or bust from his point of view.
"I came to fight Conor McGregor and I don't have too much interest in anybody else," he said. "I don't have any interest in fighting at all. If that's what we're going to do, we're going to do it."
McGregor, who on Thursday insisted he is not retired, put out a tweet during the news conference in which he indicated he made $400 million for the company in his last three fights, against Chad Mendes at UFC 189; against Jose Aldo at UFC 194 and against Diaz at UFC 196.
He had not said previously it was a financial issue, and simply that he felt he'd done enough promoting and needed this one time to focus simply on training.
Everyone flew in. Respect.
But not everyone up there made the company 400million in 8 months.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 22, 2016
But Diaz didn't seem to be too impressed by that. When he was asked to respond to McGregor's tweet, Diaz said simply, "Conor got his ass beat."
Ana Claudia Guedes, an attorney who has represented numerous UFC fighters and is the attorney for the Brazil-based Nova Uniao camp fighters of which Aldo is a member, sided with the UFC.
"I have certainly had situations where a UFC press request was inconvenient to the athlete, and so I understand Mr. McGregor's frustration," she said. "Sometimes the travel request is made with short notice, and it can pose a real logistical challenge, conflicting with the athlete's other commitments, or interfering with training camp. But it is part of the athlete's professional obligations to promote his or her fight, and failing to do so is not just unprofessional, it shows a real lack of respect to the other fighters on the card as well as to the countless professionals who are putting together the PR.
"An athlete can certainly request accomodations to his promotion schedule, but there is a right and a wrong way to do that. Pouting and refusing to show last minute is not the right way. Conor is one of the best, if not the best, paid UFC athletes, headlining what will become an iconic card, the inaugural show at T-Mobile Arena. With great privilege comes great responsibility. Choosing to be a no-show to the press conference is just not realistic, and I completely respect the UFC's position on this one.'
White said he is not angry at McGregor and said he would fight the winner of the Aldo-Frankie Edgar bout for the featherweight title when he returns. He expected that to be after UFC 200 but before UFC 204 in New York in November.