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Dana White expects Conor McGregor back in UFC by ‘early fall’ — and Alex Volkanovski will be waiting

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

When is Conor McGregor making his UFC return?

“If his leg heals right and he gets the clearance to really start training, then possibly early fall,” promotion president Dana White told The Sun. “We’ll see when he’s ready to fight and when the doctor gives him 100 percent clearance we’ll start looking at possible opponents.”

The former lightweight champion, who also wore gold at 145 pounds, broke his leg in the UFC 264 main event back in July 2021 and has been working diligently to get himself back into fighting shape. In fact, “Notorious” recently posted photos of his first attempt at live sparring since going down with injury (see those pics here).

So who wins the “Mystic Mac” lottery later this year?

“The question comes up a lot,” reigning UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski told TMZ Sports. “He’s another champ in my division that I haven’t taken out. I’ve taken out everyone else. So it makes sense on top of the circus and the money. I want to take out all the legends of this division. Conor McGregor held the belt in my division. I want that GOAT status. Take out all the champions? You’re fucking saying something.”

That might not sit well with this former champion.

Volkanovski, 33, has already defeated Max Holloway, Jose Aldo, and Chad Mendes — three of the greatest featherweights of the last decade — in his meteoric rise to 145-pound infamy. There isn’t much left for the 24-1 Aussie to prove in his current division which is why “The Great” has been contemplating a jump to lightweight.

McGregor, however, may not be ready for that level of competition.

“I think, honestly, when boxers come back from a long layoff and they come back from a loss, one thing that boxers do that’s smart is they have a tune-up fight,” UFC color commentator Joe Rogan told Mike Tyson. “I think there’s a reason why they’ve been using tune-up fights forever, like astute managers. They know you’ve got to knock the dust off and you’ll be better in the next performance, [rather than] to jump right into a Dustin Poirier or right into — name it — Michael Chandler, like right into a guy who’s the elite of the elite.”

I hear this two-division “gatekeeper” is looking for an opponent .