Conor McGregor said he will never retire from mixed-martial arts as the UFC star explained his absence from the octagon.
Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor has not fought in the UFC since announcing his retirement in a shock social media post in March.
The Irishman retired via Twitter following October's loss to rival Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
However, McGregor – who boasts a 21-4 record in the UFC, with 18 knockouts – is eager to return to the sport.
"There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes I need distance…," McGregor – who was eyeing a return in July before a hand injury scuppered his plans – told ESPN when asked if he is retired.
"My foot was a balloon when I walked into that fight. I have footage backed up from that entire camp. I broke my foot three weeks out from the fight… I done so much for the company. Back-to-back-to-back, non-stop. I built this house. I certainly laid bricks and blocks down for this game.
"Retirement? I don't think I would ever retire from this game. Never in my life. I'll be fighting until the day I go out. There's no doubt about it. It's in me. I will take it with me to the grave."
McGregor: "I look forward to my triumphant return… we're all eager to get this back on track."
"I would say we could get that done," McGregor said when asked if he could return this year.
"If I have this opportunity before me, if I don't execute this and get this right, make this happen for the children of my children's children, all of my successes, all of everything I've achieved will be void, will be meaningless to me," McGregor continued. "I must get this right and I must not go down that path, the written path, the cliché of the fighter that has it all and ruins [it].
"I need to be aware of my past, of the past of other individuals, and learn from it and grow and that's what I'm doing."