UFC president Dana White warned Conor McGregor could reverse his retirement – but not this year.
McGregor, 32, in May announced for the third time in four years that he would walk away from the UFC.
Promoter White has been bombarded to provide updates on the frustrated Irishman, but has always backed up the retirement claim.
But now White is confident the former two-division champion will make a fighting return, but ruled out a comeback in 2020.
He told Barstool Sports: “I’m not focused on anything with anybody who’s not fighting.
“Conor McGregor is retired. Do we all believe he’ll stay retired? I think most of us don’t believe that he’ll remain retired.”
McGregor secured his first win in three years in January, as he beat 36-year-old Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds.
He had wanted to fight at least three times this year, but was left bitterly frustrated during coronavirus lockdown as he was unable to fight amid travel restrictions.
Justin Gaethje, 31, would win the interim lightweight title in May, setting up a unification with Khabib Nurmagomedov, 31, and that month McGregor announced his retirement.
With the UFC continuing to stage shows behind closed doors with crowds unable to attend, losing huge sums on ticket sales, White is adamant The Notorious will only be able to fight next year.
He said: “Conor McGregor is not fighting, he is retired. I have no plan.
“I’m in the war room right now and we have fights laid out to November 7 and Conor McGregor is not on any of them.
“This year, he is retired. He doesn’t have a fight this year, and he won’t have a fight this year.
“Conor McGregor will not fight in 2020. I’m not saying he won’t fight in 2021, but I’m telling you we don’t have a fight planned for him in 2021, but I guarantee he will not fight in 2020.
“Conor McGregor is retired.”
Even in retirement, McGregor has teased a return and even hinted at a boxing match with Manny Pacquiao, 41, after tweeting in Filipino.
But White – who helped promote McGregor’s ring debut against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 – is not impressed by the rumours.
He explained: “I’ll still shoot him a text personally, but on a business level, he’s out of the mix.
“He’s not fighting at all.
“So everybody keeps asking me questions about him and I’m like, ‘Manny Pacquiao? What the f*ck are you talking about?’”