LOS ANGELES • Conor McGregor, arguably the most marketable name in mixed martial arts (MMA), yesterday announced he was calling it a day.
He tweeted: "Hey guys, quick announcement, I've decided to retire from the sport formally known as 'Mixed Martial Art' today.
"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, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title-holder in two weight classes, has fought sparingly in the octagon in recent years and has had a few run-ins with the law recently.
Earlier this month, he was charged with strong-arm robbery and criminal mischief in Miami after police alleged that he stomped on and took a man's phone in an incident that occurred outside the Fontainebleau Hotel.
He was also charged last April with assault and criminal mischief, after police said he attacked a chartered bus in New York carrying UFC fighters. He had to serve five days of community service.
His most recent bout, an October submission loss to the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov at the UFC 229 event, was marred by post-bout melees involving both fighters and their entourages.
As a result, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Nurmagomedov for nine months and McGregor for six, a sanction that was scheduled to end on April 6. That card drew 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the most for an MMA event.
While his management did not respond to a request for comment yesterday, UFC president Dana White said the Irishman's decision "totally makes sense" given his wealth and the commercial success of his Proper No. Twelve Whisky venture.
The 30-year-old earned a reported payday of more than US$100 million (S$134.9 million) from his August 2017 boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather.
White added: "He has the money to retire... if I were him, I would retire too. He's retiring from fighting. Not from working. The whisky will keep him busy, and I'm sure he has other things he's working on.
"He has been so fun to watch. He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the octagon as he was in it."
Despite awful reviews - one consumer wrote online that the whisky featured "notes of turpentine interlaced with the musk from a crowded, poorly maintained Turkish bathhouse sauna" - the liquor has reportedly has sold well since hitting the markets last September.
TOTALLY MAKES SENSE
If I were him, I would retire too. He's retiring from fighting. Not from working. The whisky will keep him busy.
DANA WHITE, UFC president, commenting on Conor McGregor's decision.
White also predicted last year that McGregor would make "a billion dollars" off his alcohol brand.
However, hours before his announcement, McGregor appeared on The Tonight Show and told host Jimmy Fallon he was negotiating to fight at UFC 239 in July, although he prefaced his comment by claiming he "was set for life" and "did not necessarily need to fight".
The self-professed "face of the fight game" added: "We're good, but I'm eager to fight, so we'll see what happens."
This is not the first time he has announced his retirement on social media. In April 2016, he tweeted that he had "decided to retire young," a month after being submitted in a loss to Nate Diaz.
But he reversed his decision two days later and beat the American by majority decision at UFC 202 in August 2016.
His peers seemed doubtful that he was really serious about calling it a day, with Khabib tweeting "there can be only one king in the jungle".
UFC heavyweight fighter Tai Tuivasa mocked the announcement by stating he had "decided to retire from eating KFC today", while former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who officially ended his career last May, claimed he had "come out of retirement".
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST