Conor McGregor’s highly anticipated return to the UFC has been on hold, but that soon could be changing.
With “The Ultimate Fighter 31” premiering Tuesday on ESPN, there’s a growing belief that the announcement of a fight between coaches McGregor and Michael Chandler soon will follow. And when McGregor finally steps back in the cage, he vows it’ll be unlike any return that’s been seen before.
“Not only just a return, the greatest return in combat sports,” McGregor said in an interview with Megan Olivi released Tuesday on the UFC’s YouTube channell. “This is gonna be – I’m gonna kick this guy in the head. He’s just tailor made for being kicked all over the place, and that’s what I’m aiming for.
“I’m aiming to wrap this steel bar around the opponent. You’re gonna see a visual of the leg hanging off, and then you’re gonna see a visual of a head hanging off.”
McGregor hasn’t competed since July 2021 when he was taken off on a stretcher after breaking his leg in an injury TKO loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 264. Since then, McGregor endured a grueling recovery, although he’s been seen on social media living the good life as the richest fighter in MMA and dabbling in other ventures, all the while remaining out of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s drug-testing pool.
McGregor will need six months in the pool before he can fight again. McGregor said he accepted the “TUF 31” coaching gig simply because it was time.
“It’s time for me to immerse myself back in the game,” McGregor said. “I was just excited to get back, couldn’t turn down the offer.”
And so the expectation is for McGregor, 34, to fight former Bellator lightweight champion Chandler, 37, in a welterweight bout in November or December. McGregor said he relishes the matchup with Chandler but added that the opponent for his return ultimately didn’t matter.
He just wants to get back on track after being largely inactive with just four fights (and a 1-3 record) since his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.
“He’s put on some exciting fights, he’s eager, he’s willing to fight, he’s a gamer, you’d call him, and he’s not a bad fighter, either,” McGregor said of Chandler, who’s 2-3 since joining the UFC in 2021. “I’m happy with the opponent. I don’t actually care. I accepted this show; it was me and Chandler. Again, it doesn’t bother me.
“What do I hope for in this world? I hope for a hundred more fights. I hope for consistency. I hope for a run. I’ve had this on, off, on, off for the last while. I just want to get this nice consistency going. And I’m hoping now when I come back this is where it’s at.”