Conor McGregor announced his retirement from mixed-martial arts Monday, hours before a report surfaced detailing sexual assault accusations made against the former UFC champion last year.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the 30-year-old McGregor is under investigation in Ireland after a woman accused him of sexual assault in December. McGregor was arrested and released by Irish police in January but has not been charged with a crime, according to the report.
Late Monday night, McGregor tweeted, “I’ve decided to retire,” minutes after a previously recorded segment with host Jimmy Fallon aired on “The Tonight Show.”
“Hey guys quick announcement, I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ today,” wrote @thenotoriousmma, McGregor’s account. “I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!”
McGregor, currently serving a six-month suspension for his role in the October post-fight incident with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov following Nurmagomedov’s fourth-round submission victory, has been engaged with veteran lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for a July fight.
McGregor told Fallon, “I love to compete, I love to fight. … We’re in talks for July, [but there’s] a lot of politics. The fight game is a mad game. I can fight who I want.”
But UFC leadership has been resistant to place the non-title McGregor-Cerrone bout as the main event to its marquee International Fight Week card July 6 in Las Vegas.
McGregor, after signing a new multi-fight deal with the UFC before fighting Nurmagomedov, hinted at his leverage in talking to Fallon at a New York Irish bar on March 18, where he hawked his new whiskey and clothing line.
“I’ve done my piece for the company. I don’t necessarily need to fight. I am set for life,” McGregor said.
The UFC could use the promotion of a looming McGregor fight to counter a bad month of publicity that has included the year-long performance-enhancing suspension of bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, a restraining order against former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson by his wife in Orange County and a post-fight attack of fighter Leon Edwards in England by the UFC’s Jorge Masvidal.
UFC President Dana White told his broadcast partner ESPN, “If I was [McGregor], I’d retire, too,” a nod to the success of McGregor’s whiskey business and his banked riches after the Irishman was defeated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the lucrative 2017 novelty boxing match that generated more than 4 million pay-per-view buys.
“This story has been circulating for some time and it is unclear why it is being reported now. The assumption that the Conor retirement announcement today is related to this rumor is absolutely false,” a recent statement on the matter from McGregor’s spokesperson, Karen J. Kessler.
“Should Conor fight in the future it must be in an environment where fighters are respected for their value, their skill, their hard work and their dedication to the sport.”