“He wants to fight Gaethje. Gaethje just won to get the fight with Khabib,” White said on ESPN’s First Take (via Damon Martin of MMA Fighting). “He just beat Tony Ferguson. Conor had the opportunity to slide into that spot if Khabib or Tony fell out. He came back and said ‘I’m not a replacement fighter, I’m not going to do it.’ He would be in that position now if he took the fight. He didn’t, Gaethje did so Gaethje gets it.”
UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov wound up withdrawing from UFC 249 and was replaced by Justin Gaethje, but that spot would’ve been McGregor’s if he accepted the short notice opportunity.
White, citing all the stuff the UFC is doing at the moment, says that McGregor won’t get his way after the fighter’s latest venture into retirement.
“Conor McGregor is frustrated right now because I mean look what’s going on,” White said. “Look at what we’re pulling off. We’re literally just going to Yas Island right now to pull off these fights because the hardest thing to do right now is to get people into the country from other parts of the world. We are a true global business. We’re the only one pulling off live sports right now. If I continue to do fights in the United States, I’m going to burn out all my American talent. Now we got Yas Island ready to go, it’s set up. This is just a matter of Conor being frustrated I think in that he can’t get what he wants right now. It’s just not possible.”
If McGregor does stay retired this time around, it would mean McGregor’s victory at UFC 246 would serve as the final fight of his professional MMA career.