IT WAS 13 short words, but it sent the sporting world into meltdown.

Conor McGregor's brief retirement tweet on Wednesday (AEST) caused a short period of confused chaos across media outlets, not just in the MMA world, but across some of the biggest online sports sites around the globe.

The shock-value was immense, but its snowball effect was even bigger - UFC 200 blew up.

While it appears the tweet came as a reaction to a difference of opinion between UFC boss Dana White and The Notorious rather than a cleverly devised promotional strategy, it certainly did its job as the latter.


"There had been 10 million dollars allocated for the promotion of this event is what they told me," McGregor wrote in an explanatory Facebook post on Friday.

"So as a gesture of good will, I went and not only saved that 10 million dollars in promotion money, I then went and tripled it for them.

And all with one tweet."

There is no doubt about it - McGregor is a superstar in the UFC and his shock retirement announcement caused a stir. But some of the sport's biggest commentators are even going as far as to claim the move has bumped McGregor's status to a level higher than that of mainstream sport's biggest icons.

During episode 788 of the The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, UFC commentator Joe Rogan and former UFC heavyweight fighter Brendan Schaub built the Irishman up as one of sport's all-time great personalities.

"Conor is one of the most charismatic guys of all time, in all sports, no doubt about it. He is a marketing machine. Just his quotes and his style, his flare," Rogan said.

But it was Schaub who went on to draw similarities between the popularity of the 27-year-old fighter and that of one of the biggest names in the sports world: LeBron James.

"His tweet is the biggest tweet by an athlete this year. It beat Kobe Bryant's retirement tweet. And you want him to go do an interview for ESPN, where they don't know the sport?" Schaub said.

"I watch ESPN every morning. They were talking about LeBron James in the play-off game tonight, and they interrupted it with breaking news to talking about Conor not retiring. That's how big he is.

"The PR team at the UFC could not get this sort of attention, even if they wanted to. Conor can. You have a legit superstar who makes more money than anyone, the highest gates."

Schaub was using McGregor's rising popularity to support the argument that the UFC should be more accommodating when arranging media events for the organisation's biggest names. When McGregor is making more money for the organisation than any handful of the other athletes combined, you could argue it's a smart business decision to keep him happy.

The Irishman is currently still in a feud with White after refusing to leave his training camp in Iceland to fly to Las Vegas for UFC 200 promotional duties.

"When any other fighter is doing an interview, they're really not selling the fight, they are talking about their camp and they are doing the same thing over and over," Schaub said.
"Conor is a master that we have never seen do it before. He is coming up with original content non-stop, he's on. He's just a beast, man.

"So to have that guy fly around the world and do all this stuff - at the end of the day we have got to remember this is a sport, this is not the WWE. So to keep putting on the spectacle like it's similar to the WWE, at some point you have got to say... 'we are in the hurt business, he has to focus'.

"Conor is a guy that has crossed over into popular culture, he's such a big star now. A tweet from him will hype the fight. If Conor loses this fight, you are losing your golden boy - the biggest star by far. Let's just let him focus a little bit.

"I see some fighters go 'its our obligation to do these press conferences'. Slow your roll, homie, you're not Conor McGregor. There's a big difference. A loss for him, you are talking millions. And the UFC.

"If I'm looking as a businessman I'll go 'alright he's going to do a press conference, but we are going to come to him'. Did anyone think to do that?"

The UFC press conference at the MGM Grand is scheduled for Saturday morning (AEST), McGregor won't be appearing, but it seems neither will his planned opponent, Nate Diaz.

Whether White and the Irishman are able to settle their dispute in time for McGregor to be reinstated on the UFC 200 card remains to be seen.