O Say, can UFC?

Anders Umholtz, Guest Writer

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Former double-champion Conor McGregor has claimed via Twitter that his fighting days are over, saying, “I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as “Mixed Martial Art” today.” This may seem like big news, as McGregor is one of the sport’s most iconic fighters and a huge draw for the UFC. However, many are skeptical about the legitimacy of his claim, like Bloody Elbow writer Anton Tabuena, who says “…it’s hard to believe this is anything but a negotiating tactic,” citing a similarly empty threat McGregor made back in 2016. Notably, McGregor has been pushing for his upcoming fight with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone to be a main event, but supposedly is willing to take a co-main in return for shares in the UFC company: “You can put me on the first fight of ESPN+ but just give me my shares.” With the recent success of his Proper 12 Whiskey company and the obvious dangers of fighting, there are some legitimate reasons why he may be seriously quitting the sport. However, he’s still relatively young at 30, (most fighters retire around 40) and has millions of fans that want to see him fight, so most analysts have agreed that McGregor is bluffing.

In other news, former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has voluntarily relinquished his title after testing positive for an unknown illegal substance. In a March 20th Instagram post, he stated that there was, “an adverse finding” in the sample. Until NYSAC or USADA release more information, one can only speculate about what Dillashaw got flagged for: based on USADA’s guidelines, it could be anything from anabolic steroids to marijuana. The most popular theory right now is that Dillashaw unknowingly took tainted supplements, an increasingly common claim among fighters as drug testing steadily improves. The quintessential example of this is the buildup to Jon Jones’ fight with Alexander Gustafsson in December, when a test showed metabolites (what the body leaves behind after processing a chemical) of the steroid Turinabol. Jones claimed that he took erectile dysfunction pills that had trace amounts of the drug in them, and the UFC ended up allowing him to fight in Los Angeles where the state athletic commission cut him a little more slack. Dillashaw also recently lost a title fight with flyweight champ Henry Cejudo by 32-second K.O. Due to the incredibly short duration and a controversial stoppage, it was widely believed that the two would have a rematch at bantamweight–this rematch is not so likely anymore.