By Adnan Awan
Four key fighters have announced that they do not wish to compete for the UFC any longer. They are; Jon Jones (26-1-1 MMA, 20-1-1 UFC), Jorge Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC), Conor McGregor (22-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) and Henry Cejudo (16-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC).
Jon Jones 32, is the UFC light heavyweight champion and is considered to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time and is ranked no. 1 on the UFC’s pound for pound list. On May 31, 2020, Jones tweeted that he was willing to vacate the light heavyweight title and take time off.
Jorge Masvidal 35, had a blazing career resurgence in 2019 courtesy of back to back knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren. Masvidal went on to defeat Nick Diaz for the BMF belt at UFC 244. Earlier this month Masvidal tweeted that he wanted to be released from his UFC contract.
Conor McGregor 31, is the UFC’s first two-belt champion and the organization’s biggest draw. McGregor returned to the Octagon in 2020 after 14 months of inactivity and defeated Donald Cerrone via TKO in round 1 at UFC 246. Out of the UFC’s five highest-grossing PPVs, four featured McGregor. McGregor announced his retirement on June 6, 2020, via twitter.
Henry Cejudo 33, is the fourth UFC fighter to hold titles in two different weight classes simultaneously and the second to defend titles in two different weight divisions. Cejudo announced his retirement after defending his bantamweight belt against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in May 2020.
Jones and Masvidal have cited fighter pay as the issue for their discontent. Jones teased a move up to heavyweight to fight former title contender and present #2 ranked heavyweight Francis Ngannou. Masvidal was initially set to challenge Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight title in July 2020. Both bouts have come apart for financial reasons.
Although exact details are not available, Dana White has stated that Jones wanted approximately $30 million for the Ngannou fight. Jones replied that he had asked for $15 million. With respect to Masvidal, negotiations hit an impasse due to fighter pay.
Dana White has pointed out that both Masvidal and Jones just signed new contracts in 2019 under which they each have approximately eight fights left.
The case of McGregor and Cejudo is somewhat different. McGregor is allegedly walking away due to boredom, as the UFC doesn’t have any fights scheduled for him in the immediate future. This is Conor’s third retirement announcement in four years and may be due to frustration at the Irish megastar’s inability to land a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov or a fight with Justin Gaetjhe.
Cejudo has stated that he left the sport as it held no further challenges for him. Approximately one month after his retirement announcement, Cejudo has stated that he would return to the Octagon if he were given a fight against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Whether this is all a business ploy, or they genuinely are done with the fight game is yet to be seen.