Alright, so maybe I didn't actually make that cake, but you gotta admit - that was a pretty good one!
Now that I've slept on Conor's third retirement inside four years and had some time to think about it, I feel pretty much exactly the same as I did last night - not worried at all.
Obviously, McGregor's not actually calling it quits. He seemed to acknowledge as much in a quick exchange with Ariel Helwani this morning...
Key words to look out for there: "...and there's nothing really there at the minute."
"...AT THE MINUTE."
Conor wants to fight right now. He's itching to get back in there. Going into this year, he said he wanted to fight three times, and was treating 2020 like a "fight season". He got his first bout out of the way in January (which feels like 10 years ago), wanted a second in late Spring/early Summer, and a third (which would hypothetically be a rematch with Khabib) in the Fall.
Right now, with where the UFC is at - and more specifically with where the Lightweight Division is at - Conor's three fight "season" is in jeopardy, because there's very few opponents that make sense for him right now. Dana White wants him to wait around for a title shot this Fall, and Conor hates that idea.
Conor said he wants Justin Gaethje now, and doesn't understand why the UFC won't just put that together...
….but Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje just duked it out for the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship, and Gaethje came out on top of that one, so he was promised a shot at Khabib to unify the belts. Gaethje has long said that Khabib is his dream fight, and that he's always wanted a UFC/Russia 'Rocky IV' style fight, so he may not want McGregor as badly in return! I can't imagine that, knowing the extra 0's you'd get on your check from fighting Conor, but who knows…some fighters truly don't give a shit about money.
Tony Ferguson literally JUST got his ass whooped in that fight, and cut weight twice in the span of three weeks for it, so I think he may need a bit of a break. Let's say he's out too. Who does that leave us with? Nate Diaz? Jorge Masvidal? Kamaru Usman? Paul Felder? Dustin Poirier?
I'd probably take Masvidal out of the running first considering his current beef about not getting paid enough (and the fact that Dana White has NEVER been down for that matchup), as well as Usman, who is sorta ridiculous to even suggest considering all of the options he has at 170lbs. I think they'll probably wind up doing Kamaru vs Gilbert Burns next. I only bring up Paul Felder's name because Conor said, "Even that little fool at the desk could get it!" in reference to the Irish Dragon after starching Cowboy, but I think that's an even more lopsided mismatch than McGregor/Cerrone was. Sort've a lose-lose for Conor.
I feel like a Poirier rematch at this stage could make sense, and I've long said that I'd pretty much always be down to see him and Nate complete the trilogy because those fights were incredible, but there's probably some kinda hurdles at the negotiating table for each of those fights too. I've got no idea.
TL;DR - Conor's not actually retiring, he's upset that the UFC wants him to wait around for the winner of Khabib/Gaethje in the Fall. He wants to stay active and fight right now. They're having a hard time figuring that out.