With the MMA world reeling from the news of Conor McGregor’s retirement, highly-regarded MMA reporter Ariel Helwani has suggested the death of Joao Carvalho may be a factor.
McGregor was outside the octagon cheering on his SBG teammate Charlie Ward as he fought and beat Carvalho in the Total Extreme Fighting event at the National Stadium on April 9.
And the UFC star described the Portuguese fighter’s death three days later, as a result of injuries sustained in the octagon, as “heartbreaking”.
“To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life, and then to have it taken away is truly heartbreaking,” McGregor wrote on Facebook.
“Nobody involved in combat sports of any kind wants to see this. It is such a rare occurrence that I don't know how to take this.
“I was ringside supporting my teammate, and the fight was so back and forth, that I just can't understand it.”
In an interview on MMAfighting.com Helwani suggested that the tragedy may have had a profound effect on McGregor.
“Conor McGregor talked about how devastating this was and really put out a heartfelt statement,” Helwani said.
“I don’t think that we can brush that aside.”
He continued: “Knowing Conor as I do, the idea of going to Las Vegas and promoting a fight and pretending like all’s well in the fight game, after witnessing something like that first hand, is a tough thing for a young man to swallow.”
Last night UFC President Dana White said that McGregor was pulled from UFC 200 after for refusing to take part in promotional activities.
White said: “I respect Conor as a fighter and I like him as a person. But you can’t decide not to show up to these things. You have to do it.”
Speculation over the reasons behind McGregor’s decision will doubtless continue until such time as the Crumlin fighter explains his actions.