Experts views on futures of Conor McGregor, Jon Jones and Jorge Masvidal

After Conor McGregor‘s abrupt retirement announcement, Dana White had another one of his superstars turning their back on him. Fighter Conor McGregor took to Twitter to post his retirement to his fans on June 6th, 2020. He wrote-

‘Hey guys I’ve decided to retire from fighting. Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it’s been! Here is a picture of myself and my mother in Las Vegas post one of my World title wins! Pick the home of your dreams Mags I love you! Whatever you desire it’s yours.’

Along with the tweet, was a lovely photograph of Conor with his mother, in which they were all smiles. The picture was taken after Conor’s World Title victory in Las Vegas.

About a week ago, Jon Jones and Jorge Masvidal also made it clear that they want out. On May 31, Jon Jones tweeted that he wanted to give up the light heavyweight championship and take some time off. Jorge Masvidal tweeted on June 5th, 2020 that he wanted to be released from his UFC contract. He tweeted –

If I am not worth it let me go @espn.’

What we can safely assume to be the reason for the recent exits of these two UFC fighters, is financial impasse.  In fact Jon Jones’ rift with the UFC over the amount of money he was asking for to move up to heavyweight for a super-fight with Francis Ngannou, is no secret. And Masvidal’s dismay over the breakdown of contract talks with the UFC are surely what drove him to such a decision.

Masvidal was set to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title in July, but as we know the monetary negotiations were not smooth.

McGregor on the other hand is walking away from UFC claiming that it doesn’t excite him anymore. Well, Dana White did hold off from scheduling fights for him in the immediate future. In one of his earlier interviews, White stated his plans for McGregor. He said that he wants McGregor to wait it out until the match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. He wanted McGregor to face the winner of that fight.

As far as McGregor’s announcement is concerned, it is not his first. And skeptics believe that it will certainly not be his last. Experts feel that it was an immature and rash decision on McGregor’s part and that he will soon realise his mistake.

There is no doubt that all three of the fighters are indispensable to UFC. They are all A listers and at the top of their game. But Masvidal’s exit can be most problematic for the UFC. As made clear by his recent tweets, Masvidal is not happy with his place in UFC and is not holding back at all to express himself.

Let’s see what ESPN’s expert panel believes about the future of these three superstars.

Whose scenario is essentially the most problematic for the UFC? Jones, Masvidal or McGregor?

Helwani: There is not a flawed reply right here as a result of these three are all A-listers, and it is not a great search for the promotion to have any of them publicly feuding with the UFC. However, I’ll go along with Masvidal as a result of for those who’re following him on Twitter, you may discover he isn’t holding again. At all. And what makes him so “problematic” is that he’s speaking about financial points that have an effect on all fighters. He’s speaking in regards to the enterprise of the game, and he is not exhibiting any indicators of slowing down.

Okamoto: Jones. Look, till we actually hear extra from McGregor, I, personally, am placing no inventory into this “retirement announcement.” There isn’t any likelihood that man is retired. He posted an image of a retirement cake over the weekend, which is enjoyable, however publish an image of a letter to USADA, withdrawing your self from the testing pool — as a result of that is when a retirement is actual. This is simply my private opinion — and I’ll preface it by saying McGregor is crucial determine in MMA proper now — however I simply suppose the person is searching for consideration. That’s it. Jones is completely different. Jones is mad, and I do suppose he is keen to take a seat for some time. He’s a polarizing particular person, however he is additionally the best of all time. And he is the current and future of the sunshine heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. Daniel Cormier goes to retire quickly. Stipe Miocic would possibly too. Those two higher weight lessons are skinny, and they want Jones.

Raimondi: Right now, at this very second, the reply might be Masvidal. To me, it is a query of proximity. All three current separate points which have an opportunity to be severe. But Masvidal was initially slated to problem Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight title in July. That’s only a few weeks away. The UFC’s subsequent pay-per-view occasion is slated for July 11, and there does not appear to be a transparent foremost occasion at this level. It may be too late to determine this case with Masvidal in time. And Usman vs. Masvidal would have been an enormous one.

Remember how scorching that rivalry was once they had that confrontation back in February at Super Bowl radio row? The momentum from that was misplaced, but it surely might have been constructed again up once more main towards an enormous PPV. Masvidal is speaking about issues that the majority fighters do not point out, like how a lot of a share of the income goes to them in comparison with the athletes in different sports activities. This appears, in the mean time, like a sticky scenario for the UFC.

Wagenheim: In the brief time period, it is McGregor, as a result of he brings in by far essentially the most cash. But wanting on the huge image, it should concern the UFC to have a number of stars taking a tough take a look at how the corporate does enterprise. McGregor is simply speaking about strolling away (once more), which does not sound so activist. But the rhetoric of Jones and Masvidal suggests they need change and will work towards it. Remember when Georges St-Pierre was half of a gaggle attempting to get fighters to arrange? Imagine if GSP and Jones — No. 1 and No. 2 in nearly everybody’s GOAT dialog — had been to guide an effort to get fighters a share of UFC income that is extra in keeping with what gamers’ unions have gotten from the NFL, the NBA, MLB and different leagues by collective bargaining. That’s a struggle I’d watch.

If McGregor’s largest frustration is centered on his inactivity, ought to Dana White ebook him for July, and in opposition to whom?

Helwani: Yes. I do not perceive the thought of shelving him till after Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje occurs. He’s the most important draw within the historical past of the game, why on the planet would you shelve him for an additional six to eight months when he’s revved and able to go? Priority No. 1 must be to search out him a struggle immediately. If Gaethje is not out there, name up Nathan Diaz. No. 3. Let’s go.

Okamoto: I imply, certain. Yes. If Conor McGregor needs to struggle, he must be allowed to struggle. Of course. But who does he need to struggle? Justin Gaethje? No. Gaethje deserves a title shot. Khabib Nurmagomedov? No. Nurmagomedov is combating Gaethje. Anderson Silva? No, if I had been the UFC I would not make that. It’d be a joke. Masvidal? Heck sure. Make that. Nate Diaz? I’m in. Kamaru Usman? You know what? I would not like it, and it would not take advantage of sense, but it surely’s an incredible story and could be a shot at historical past for McGregor. I’d settle for it. I’d like to see an energetic McGregor. Who would not? But on the identical time, he is not entitled to any struggle he needs, on any date he needs it.

Raimondi: Justin Gaethje? Nate Diaz? If McGregor simply needs to struggle and struggle quickly, this could appear to have a simple resolution. But that is not precisely it, is it? McGregor is searching for a contemporary problem, one thing thrilling. Honestly, I would not be against him even combating Anderson Silva at a catchweight, as loopy as that sounds. I believe that might find yourself being rather a lot of enjoyable.

There must be a method for the UFC to tempt “The Notorious” with one thing distinctive for this summer season. It’s worrisome to listen to McGregor say he is bored and uninterested with the struggle recreation proper now, given his unbridled enthusiasm for each side of MMA.

Wagenheim: If the person needs to struggle, give him a struggle. He does not get Justin Gaethje although, as a result of Gaethje is matched up with Khabib Nurmagomedov. And no Kamaru Usman both, as a result of title photographs must be earned. (That’s not essentially UFC protocol, as we have been seeing, however when I’m taking part in matchmaker, I get to make the principles.) So look past these three names, Conor, and take your decide of anybody else on the roster. Looking ahead to welcoming you again from the retirement house.

Does it make extra sense to ebook Conor now with out followers and once more later this 12 months, or wait till there is a megafight presumably with a stay crowd?

Helwani: Book him now. We do not know when followers shall be allowed to attend occasions once more, and, even when they’re finally allowed, they will not be filling up arenas immediately like they used to. McGregor is a large pay-per-view draw. He hasn’t fought thrice in a calendar 12 months since 2016. He needs to struggle thrice this 12 months, badly. Keep him energetic and take pleasure in these PPV numbers.

Okamoto: I do not know the ins and outs of the fee the UFC will incur to host an occasion on “Fight Island” and not using a stay gate. And I do not know precisely what McGregor makes, or how his contract is structured. If there’s a strategy to ebook McGregor to a smart struggle, like a Masvidal, Diaz or Tony Ferguson, and contractually, each side may be proud of the ultimate numbers, then sure, of course. Book him. Right now. We do not know what the long run holds. Three months in the past, a pandemic was one thing we solely thought of in films. I’d slightly not see McGregor shelved till followers can return to an enviornment, as a result of we do not know what that date shall be. But frankly, the reply to this query actually comes right down to monetary data we’re simply not aware of.

Raimondi: The UFC appears to need to wait, do the light-weight title struggle between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje and then have McGregor struggle the winner. By then, maybe there shall be some means to have a crowd in a bigger venue. If McGregor fights this summer season, there’s an opportunity he might lose and smash what could be a monster matchup for the light-weight title in opposition to both his nemesis Nurmagomedov or Gaethje, one of essentially the most thrilling fighters on the planet. But what makes most sense to me is maintaining the most important star in UFC historical past joyful. He has made a lot cash he does not need to struggle once more. So the UFC must ask him what he needs, and then go from there.

Wagenheim: So my decisions are one McGregor struggle or two McGregor fights? That’s a simple one. Sure, I get the reluctance to ebook him at an occasion with out followers in attendance. McGregor is one of the best there’s ever been at riling up a crowd, and that in flip transforms a struggle evening right into a capital-E Event. But his struggle performances alone might energize a lonely Octagon arrange within the center of the Sahara. Give me all of the Conor fights he is keen to tackle. Just make sure to ebook him in opposition to opponents who pose the best problem. That’s when he is at his finest and most enjoyable to observe.

Are you assured McGregor, Jones and Masvidal will all have one other struggle for the UFC this 12 months? Who do you see combating first?

Helwani: I’ll say sure. While they’re very far aside, I’ll go along with Jorge combating first by advantage of the truth that they want to try this Masvidal vs. Usman struggle subsequent. Why? No different huge names can be found for July 11, the following UFC pay-per-view date. Stipe Miocic is not prepared but, we find out about Jones, Israel Adesanya is not prepared but, Khabib Nurmagomedov is not prepared but, the bantamweight and flyweight titles are vacant, and I do not suppose the proposed vacant title struggle in both weight class — Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo at 125 and Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo at 135 — is large enough to headline a PPV proper now. On the ladies’s aspect, Amanda Nunes simply fought, Valentina Shevchenko remains to be injured, and Zhang Weili is not out there. There’s solely Usman left. So Usman vs. Masvidal on July 11. Easy.

Okamoto: No, I’m not assured. How might I be? Jones is threatening to drop his belt. Masvidal is asking for his launch. And McGregor simply introduced his third retirement. How on the planet would I be assured we’ll see all three in 2020? I’ll say this about it: I’m most assured we’ll see McGregor, and least assured we’ll see Masvidal. Oddly sufficient, I hope we see Masvidal first, as a result of I hope we see him struggle Kamaru Usman in July. That’s the welterweight title struggle to make. But if Usman strikes on to Gilbert Burns, I actually do suppose Masvidal’s future is essentially the most unsure of the three.

Raimondi: I’m not assured about that in any respect. I might see one or two of them combating earlier than 2021, however I’m simply unsure about all three. Jones has already mentioned he’ll see the UFC subsequent 12 months. Masvidal is taking part in severe hardball within the press. McGregor says he is unmotivated by combating proper now. Neither is an excellent scenario. Add Henry Cejudo, the previous two-division champion, to that listing and that is fairly the quandary. It’s so onerous to say who shall be again first. McGregor appears the least difficult — it is not a cash situation, not like the opposite two. So maybe it will be him.

Wagenheim: Tough name if you have not one way or the other pilfered the Zoom codes and quietly sat in on UFC enterprise conferences. With no perception into the considering of Dana White or any of the fighters, I’ll say we see all three stars earlier than New Year’s, as a result of fighters struggle and promoters money checks. I’m guessing it will be McGregor first, as a result of we have been right here earlier than with him. After his first retirement tweet, in 2016, he fought 5 months later. His second retirement lasted 9 months. He needs again within the cage, the UFC needs to make cash, so I’m guessing they work out their variations fairly quickly and ebook a second honeymoon on Fight Island.

If the three superstars do not struggle once more anytime quickly, which fighter do you see benefiting essentially the most from getting a possibility?

Helwani: If they do not make Usman vs. Masvidal subsequent, they will almost definitely go along with Gilbert Burns vs. Usman for the welterweight title. Fine struggle. Good backstory contemplating they’ve educated collectively for years, but it surely definitely does not have the juice Usman vs. Masvidal has. So Burns stands to realize essentially the most as a result of he’d be the following man up. If Jones actually vacates the sunshine heavyweight title, Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz would profit, however if you cannot struggle Jones at 205 are you actually benefiting?

Okamoto: Gilbert Burns, as a result of I believe he is the one who finally ends up getting a title shot from all this. And then somebody within the light-weight division, as a result of they will not have to attend for the McGregor saga to play out. Someone like Dustin Poirier, Dan Hooker, Tony Ferguson — one of these. Ultimately, I believe extra fighters will undergo from it than achieve from it. Usman does not get an enormous struggle in opposition to Masvidal. Dominick Reyes does not get his Jon Jones rematch. Francis Ngannou does not get a superfight in opposition to Jones. These three are all good for the game, clearly.

Raimondi: It may very well be Leon Edwards. If Masvidal will not be subsequent for Usman, it is potential Gilbert Burns, one of the most popular fighters on the roster, will get the nod. But Edwards has been introduced up a number of occasions by Usman as being essentially the most deserving for a title shot. Edwards has gained eight straight in a really deep welterweight division. The Jamaica-born fighter, who lives and trains in England, has an inspiring story of overcoming adversity, one that will be unbelievable to inform proper now.

Wagenheim: There are two fights on the horizon that might propel somebody to a brand new degree of stardom: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje for the light-weight championship and Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa for the middleweight belt. I believe Gaethje and Adesanya, specifically, have the charisma, the duende, the it issue to depart their imprint on the game in an enormous, daring method, particularly inside a vacuum left by the absence of McGregor, Jones and Masvidal.