McGregor hints at return in tweet

LOS ANGELES • Just a week after retiring for the second time in his career, mixed martial arts exponent Conor McGregor has hinted at a return in a Twitter post that ended with: "See you in the Octagon."

The twice Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title-holder shocked the sporting world on March 26 with his retirement announcement that drew plenty of scepticism.

It came hours after he told an American TV chat show that he was in negotiations for a fight in July. In 2016, he announce a retirement that lasted just days.

"I want to move forward, with my fans of all faiths and all backgrounds," he tweeted. "All faiths challenge us to be our best selves. It is one world and one for all.

"Now see you in the Octagon."

The conciliatory tone was at odds with an earlier string of abusive posts targeting Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Russian who beat him in a title fight in October.

McGregor has made no secret of his desire for a rematch.

"Don't be scared of the rematch, you little scurrying rat. You will do what you are told like you always do," he tweeted.

He also tweeted - then deleted - a number of derogatory posts about Nurmagomedov's wife and the couple's Muslim faith.

Nurmagomedov reacted furiously to the insult, raising reported sexual assault allegations which McGregor faces in Ireland, according to the New York Times. "You are a hypocrite who is not responsible for your actions," he wrote. "Justice will find you. We will see."

The vitriolic exchange drew a response from UFC chief Dana White, who said in a statement that the it had become "unacceptable" and urged both camps to dial back their rhetoric.

Both fighters are serving suspensions for an ugly brawl that erupted after their Las Vegas lightweight contest. In January, the Nevada State Athletic Commission handed Nurmagomedov a US$500,000 (S$676,670) fine and nine months' ban for his role in the melee, backdated to October. McGregor's punishment was US$50,000 fine and six months' ban.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'McGregor hints at return in tweet'. Print Edition | Subscribe