Conor McGregor’s sudden retirement announcement this week came at an interesting time, right when his alleged sexual assault case in Ireland was unveiled through mainstream media. His spokesperson, however, clarified that the two incidents were in no way connected.
Chael Sonnen recently gave his own take on the matter, touching on the repercussions a retirement entails in terms of being in the USADA testing pool. “The American Gangster” also voiced his opinions on the possible connection between McGregor’s current troubles and the UFC.
“I would not think that retiring, excluding yourself, taking yourself out of something very positive, very loved, very coveted as a means of strategy while having to deal with something so tremendous, would be wise,” Sonnen said in a video he released on his YouTube channel. “I would think at a time like this you would keep as many friends and as many doors, and as many things open as you could.”
“The other side of that coin is that could easily tarnish the other entity. You may to come to somebody, or you have somebody come to you and go ‘Look, this is not going to be good branding, this is not going to be good timing. This is going to be a jam of the highest of levels, it is best if you step away.’”
Sonnen pointed out how much damage McGregor’s case would give the UFC’s image, just like how Bellator may be taking the brunt of the bad publicity from some of its former fighters embroiled in legal troubles as of late.
“It is best if headlines do not come out that say ‘UFC star Conor McGregor’ fill in the blank,” he explained. “How many times have we seen that? (Bellator CEO Scott) Coker’s had to go through that in the last 18 months. He had two knuckleheads that don’t even work for him anymore but used to, at some point, worked for him under contract, go and do something horrendous.
“Some old Bellator guy just robbed a bank. I couldn’t tell you his name, but I could tell you he’s a former Bellator fighter because that’s what the media says. What better way to describe Conor McGregor? Instead of just saying ‘Hey, Conor McGregor…’ No, they’re gonna attach it to a brand who did nothing wrong.”
Sonnen also broached the possibility that it was either McGregor who chose to lay low and disassociate himself from the UFC, or it was someone close to him who made the suggestion.
“Maybe Conor in the spirit of sportsmanship (went) ‘Hey, you guys did a lot for me, I’mma get the hell out of your way for a little bit while I deal with this’ or maybe somebody else came to him and said ‘Hey, separate yourself and do it now,” Sonnen said. “The shoe’s gonna drop, that’s your problem…’ Something more along these lines.”
Many of his fellow fighters refuse to believe McGregor’s retirement declarations. Would-be opponent Donald Cerrone, for one, believes it is merely a “ploy to stay relevant.”