UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor used his mouth last week to offend a whole new group of potential opponents -- the entirety of the WWE roster. The question that remains is whether all of us were the ones being worked, or if McGregor was firing off the first thing that came to his mind.
McGregor, who is closing in on a much-anticipated welterweight rematch against Nate Diaz on Aug. 20, fielded questions on a UFC 202 media conference call last Friday. He was asked whether he, like Brock Lesnar, envisioned a future in which he might jump back and forth between the UFC and WWE.
It took nothing short of a few seconds for his response to light up social media.
"I haven't really thought about it," McGregor said. "For the most part, those WWE guys are p---ies, to be honest. They are master p---ies, if you ask me. I mean, full credit to Brock, he got into a fight. But at the end of the day, he's juiced up to his f---ing eyeballs. How can I respect that?
"And the other guy [CM Punk], he hasn't fought yet. So I don't know about him yet. There are some dons in that wrestling game. The McMahons, they are dons. Triple H is a don, The Rock is a don. But the rest of them are p---ies. That's a little bit more show business. This is the fight business."
McGregor, 28, didn't stop there. He went on to tweet an apology to WWE fans, but a backhanded one at best, as he took yet another shot at the roster of superstars.
I didn't mean no disrespect to the @wwe fans. What I meant to say was that I'd slap the head off your entire roster. And twice on Sunday's.
- Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 7, 2016
The result was an expected one, as a number of current and former WWE superstars came out in force against him with a deluge of tweets.
Would you prefer to find us individually or have us all line up at once? I know your time is valuable, sir. https://t.co/XPnKhWAlza
- ShinigamE (@WWEBigE) August 7, 2016
Your the size of my leg. Shut up. https://t.co/fBVEdf8hE1
- Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) August 7, 2016
Coming from a guy who built a career copying my persona, I expected the type of class we get from Ronda or Anderson. pic.twitter.com/iVoC0Xva5g
- Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) August 7, 2016
I think McGregor could do well in the featherweight division......if the WWE had one. https://t.co/90XGpSICS9
- AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) August 7, 2016
While the aftermath of McGregor's words was fun while it lasted, smart fans of WWE quickly circled back to the original question.
Had McGregor, just three years after making his UFC debut and skyrocketing to worldwide fame, taken a page from the scripted world of pro wrestling by drumming up a false beef? Or taking it even further, was this the beginning of a tease toward a future leap into the squared circle?
The answer could very likely be yes to both. McGregor is a genius marketer who sees his star extending way beyond the walls of the UFC Octagon. He also has a recent history of pulling this exact type of stunt, having done so just four months ago.
Unhappy with being asked to fly from his training camp in Iceland to Las Vegas to promote a UFC 200 main event slot, McGregor took the sporting world hostage on April 19 with a simple tweet teasing that he was willing to walk away from the sport.
I have decided to retire young.
Thanks for the cheese.
Catch ya's later.
- Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2016
While McGregor was pulled from the card as punishment, he was smart enough to prevent his name from ever leaving the headlines over the next few months. He did so by constantly teasing the idea of a real boxing match against retired champion Floyd Mayweather despite still being under contract with the UFC.
McGregor is crazy enough -- and the potential for a life-altering payday large enough -- that his intentions to make the fight were likely very real. Even if that's untrue, he used the attention and nonstop media spin (to the point of nausea) as a means to further extend his brand into new fan bases.
It's very likely he is attempting to do the same with WWE. Not to mention, it would be hard to believe McGregor would have a beef with WWE superstars in general -- not only because he's a smart enough businessman, but because of a brief moment in the aftermath of his infamous retirement tweet.
WWE superstar Becky Lynch, who like McGregor is a native of Ireland, tweeted back to him in April with the simple hashtag message of #ComeJoinMeBro. Shortly after, McGregor followed the Twitter accounts of Lynch and WWE executives Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Shane McMahon, fueling speculation that an alternate career path in WWE could be in the cards should his UFC retirement hoax turn legitimate.
- Becky Lynch (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 19, 2016
If you're looking to spin the idea of a conspiracy theory even further, consider this.
It's unlikely that Lesnar, under contract with the WWE, was allowed to make his "one-off" return at UFC 200 without WWE chairman Vince McMahon getting something large in return. McMahon, like McGregor, is too good of a businessman for anything this significant to be done in charity, especially considering the gamble WWE was taking ahead of SummerSlam (and the negative press it ultimately endured following Lesnar's pair of doping violations).
Initially, it was assumed the compensation that WWE was presumed to receive was monetary, which made sense when a trio of SummerSlam commercials ran during the UFC 200 broadcast. But what if the services of Lesnar were traded to the UFC in exchange for the "use" of a star fighter in the future?
The WWE created crossover headlines when former UFC champion Ronda Rousey appeared in a memorable skit at WrestleMania 31 in 2015. Will McGregor become the next to follow suit -- presumably at WrestleMania 33 next April -- with his recent remarks planting the seed for a red-hot angle to come?
One thing we do know is a surprise appearance at SummerSlam in Brooklyn, New York, one night after McGregor's career-defining rematch with Diaz in Las Vegas, is most likely out of the question. But the sooner we come to the conclusion that we're all being worked, and allow ourselves to submit to the necessary suspension of disbelief that comes with being a fan of pro wrestling, the easier it is to realize that anything is possible.