While MMA fans were still trying to figure out if Conor McGregor was serious about retiring, UFC president Dana White provided more concrete — and disappointing — news Tuesday. The Irish fighter was off the card for July’s UFC 200, leaving co-headliner Nate Diaz to fight another opponent. White indicated that he had been effectively forced into that decision when McGregor refused to interrupt training in Iceland and go to Las Vegas for promotional responsibilities, but it seems like there is an underlying factor in this vexing story, one about which neither side is talking.

This is all about money, right?

The time-honored adage, “The answer to all your questions is money,” very much seems to apply here. Certainly, the events of Tuesday left observers with many questions, including:

  • Why did McGregor retire so abruptly, while in the midst of training for a huge fight that could provide him with revenge for a high-profile loss in which he was compelled to tap out?
  • Why did he announce his retirement in such terse, cryptic, distant fashion? (A tweet stating, “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.”)
  • If McGregor was so intent on training for the fight, why would he do anything to put his place on the card in jeopardy?
  • Why would the legendary trash-talker, who has attained superstardom as much for his mouth as for his striking skills, ever avoid the opportunity to dominate a press conference?
  • If he really did retire, why didn’t White just point to that, instead of saying that McGregor was being punished for a dereliction of duty?

Here is what White told ESPN, when announcing that McGregor was off the card:

“Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial, or be a part of any marketing we have,” White told ESPN. “He’s in Iceland training, and that’s not possible. … He felt leaving right now would hurt his training, and getting ready for this fight.”

So, to recap, McGregor was training so hard for a fight that he refused to perform company-mandated acts for which he is incredibly well-suited, the result of which was to cancel the fight. At around the same time, he retired from the sport altogether, this in his prime at age 27 and on the verge of consolidating his nascent position as a global sports icon.

None of this adds up. Leaving it more than likely that the real root of the situation is the failure of certain numbers to add up.

McGregor could well be trying to exploit his leverage as the face of UFC — especially in the ongoing absence of Ronda Rousey — into a bigger payday. In fact, sports journalist Charly Arnolt cited an anonymous source Tuesday in tweeting out that McGregor was looking for a record-setting amount of money in exchange for his services.

The $10 million figure may or may not be accurate, but there is plenty of reason to think that’s the cause of McGregor’s stare-down with White. March’s UFC 196 event, in which McGregor went up two weight classes to face Diaz, reportedly set records for pay-per-view buys, and there is little doubt that UFC 200, an extravaganza to be held at a brand new Las Vegas arena, would do the same.

White will find another fighter to face Diaz at UFC 200, but without McGregor’s star power, the event will take a hit. There are plenty of other interesting matches on the card, including Jose Aldo-Frankie Edgar, Miesha Tate-Amanda Nunes and Cain Velasquez-Travis Browne, but none with the allure to non-hardcore MMA fans that the rematch from UFC 196 held.

We also know that McGregor has a fondness for an ostentatious lifestyle, and he has spoken of some day matching the record-shattering gate from last year’s Floyd-Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match. “I said to [UFC co-owner] Lorenzo [Fertitta], and I said to Dana, I’m bringing in these big numbers,” McGregor bragged in December. “I’m bringing in these half a billion dollar revenues, like the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has done.”

At other points, McGregor has referred to his taste for the finer things in life. “These custom-made suits aren’t cheap,” he joked in 2013. “This solid gold pocket watch, three people died making this watch. I need to put people away. I want to get paid. I’m going to go into debt fast, you know?”

As evidence that McGregor is sincere about retiring, some have pointed to the fact that he appeared at ringside earlier this month for a Dublin MMA event at which a Brazilian fighter suffered what would turn into fatal brain injuries. McGregor subsequently wrote a lengthy post on Facebook in which called the death of Joao Carvalho “truly heartbreaking.”

However, McGregor also wrote that the death was “a rare occurrence” and that “millions of people around the world … have had their lives, their health, their fitness and their mental strength all changed for the better through combat.” There certainly was no indication of second thoughts about his profession on Monday, when McGregor posted a smiling photo from his training camp in Iceland.

It is possible that, after thinking some more about what happened to Carvalho, McGregor decided to walk away from MMA. It is also possible that Carvalho’s death made him that much more determined to never again step into the Octagon for less than what he thinks he’s worth.

Alternatively, McGregor may have belatedly realized that one beating from Diaz was enough and that another would be bad for his brand, so he and White concocted an elaborate scenario to get him out of that fight without losing face entirely. Another theory posits that McGregor will indeed get back into the ring — but with the WWE, a company that surely would pay handsomely for McGregor’s tough-guy cred and gift of the gab.

In any event, it seems hardly likely that the Irishman is done fighting, and it’s more a question of when White — or someone else — ponies up enough cash to encourage McGregor to make it clear that he is far from the retiring type.