Conor McGregor will not be fighting at UFC 200 after UFC president Dana White announced on Wednesday that Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones will headline the July showdown in Las Vegas.
Cormier will fight Jones in a light heavyweight title unification bout – but McGregor has not been added to the bill.
White admitted removing McGregor from the card was an “unpopular” decision, but a necessary one. At a press conference in New York on Wednesday, White said the onus was on McGregor.
“I didn’t prevent Conor from fighting at UFC 200,” he said. “Everybody, if you look at [last week’s] press conference – Joanna Jedrzejczyk came in from Poland. Claudia Gadelha came in from Brazil. This is what we do. This is how it works.
“I didn’t prevent him from fighting at UFC 200. He knew what the deal was. I told him what the deal was. He opted to do that.”
McGregor’s welterweight rematch with Nate Diaz was originally scheduled to be the main act at the 9 July event, but the Irishman was pulled from the card last week after he refused to attend the press conference in Vegas.
McGregor threatened to retire from the sport in protest, which led to much speculation about whether he would follow through on his promise and actually quit, but then he relented and said he was still willing to fight at UFC 200 – providing he could reduce the amount of promotional work he was expected to do.
“I’ve said it a million times: Conor asked to fight Nate Diaz and Conor wants to fight Nate Diaz,” White said in New York. “Conor doesn’t back down from fights, man. One of the things that has made Conor popular and as big as he is, is this dude wants to fight. He comes to fight. He comes out guns blazing.
“Conor is fun. Conor is a stud. I have a lot of respect for Conor. Conor and I just had – you know, you have to show up and do the PR. You have to do it.”
Jones, regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in UFC, previously beat Cormier in a unanimous decision at UFC 185 before losing his title after being involved in a hit-and-run incident. Cormier won the vacant belt against Anthony Johnson and defended it against Alexander Gustafsson.
On 9 July, Jose Aldo will fight for the first time since his 13-second knockout defeat to McGregor at UFC 194 last December. He takes on Frankie Edgar.
White has now signalled that McGregor’s next fight needs to be a 145lb title defense against either Aldo or Edgar. White told ESPN that if McGregor refuses and is intent on fighting Diaz, he will have to forfeit the featherweight championship.