Conor McGregor remains the greatest UFC would-be ticket-seller despite a hiatus from the cage that has now lasted more than 18 months.
Rumours have repeatedly been rife about the 34-year-old’s plans, driven by McGregor’s prolific and provocative approach to his hugely popular social media channels.
UFC President Dana White spoke in June 2022 of his hope that his most marketable fighter might return by the end of that year or early 2023.
What’s the latest on the two-weight champion’s future? Who will his next opponent be? Here’s what we know.
Conor McGregor’s next fight
Speaking on February 4 2023, UFC president Dana White announced that Conor McGregor would fight 36-year-old contender Michael Chandler.
Chandler is a former Bellator lightweight champion who first fought under the UFC banner in January 2021, knocking out Dan Hooker on the undercard of McGregor’s first defeat to Dustin Poirier.
Conor McGregor vs Michael Chandler: When is the fight?
White said that McGregor and Chandler will be the coaches on the latest installment of TV series “The Ultimate Fighter” (TUF), which is scheduled to end on August 15, 2023.
The businessman added that he did not have a precise date or venue for the fight but would announce it “soon” – and fans will expect that to mean it will take place before the end of the year.
What is The Ultimate Fighter?
The Ultimate Fighter is an MMA competition show in the form of a reality TV series. The series has two coaches teaching eager fighters. Said fighters compete in bouts to impress UFC brass, while living with one another (opponents and teammates). The finals of the competition involves the best of the best facing off for a UFC contract.
Winners of The Ultimate Fighter include Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Nate Diaz, Ryan Bader, Tony Ferguson, Carla Esparza, and Kamaru Usman.
The Ultimate Fighter 31: When is the series?
The 31st series of the competition between upcoming fighters will start on May 30, 2023 and be shown on ESPN.
Chandler described the challenge of being a coach on TUF as something he had been “wanting to do forever.” “I want to win and Conor is the same way,” he added.
Conor McGregor on The Ultimate Fighter: What is his role?
McGregor, who has been out of action since suffering a gruesome leg injury when he sought revenge against Poirier in July 2021, will act as a mentor to a group of fighters and bid to lead them to victory over Chandler’s athletes. He will then fight Chandler at the end of the series.
This will be a second Ultimate Fighter appearance for McGregor, who coached in the 2015 series following his first UFC title win.
However, it is unknown when McGregor will be ready to fight. MMA Fighting was the first to report that McGregor still needs to re-enter the UFC’s anti-doping program. He has been working on his Hollywood career and hasn’t involved himself in the USADA testing pool. Doing so would require six months of drug testing before he can compete again.
“As we’ve confirmed before, as of today, Conor McGregor has not been reenrolled in the USADA testing pool, which he would have to be in for a minimum of six months and have at least two negative tests prior to any competition,” USADA representatives told MMA Fighting.
“For all the obvious reasons, coaches are not in our testing pool and there is no requirement for him or other coaches to be in the testing pool just to coach. If there is eventually a plan for the coaches to fight each other, then he would have to be in the testing pool at least six months and have two negative tests before any fight.”
onor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler: Record, bio
A Cage Warriors lightweight and featherweight champion, McGregor began his UFC career in 2013 and accumulated 10 wins from 14 fights, winning the featherweight (against Jose Aldo) and lightweight (against Eddie Alvarez) titles along the way.
Fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing bout in 2017, McGregor has gone 1-3 inside the octagon since.
Chandler has two wins from five fights for the promotion, including a defeat by third-round submission when he fought Poirier in his most recent bout, at UFC 281 in November 2022.
Before he fought for the UFC, Chandler was a three-time Bellator champion. He has the most wins in Bellator lightweight history.