Conor McGregor is finally coming back ... and he’ll be fighting at 170 pounds.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) confirmed the return of “The Notorious” over the weekend with a big video announcement (watch it here): McGregor will coach The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 31 opposite Michael Chandler. At the end of the season, UFC’s ex-Lightweight champion (McGregor) and Bellator MMA’s former 155-pound kingpin (Chandler) will compete 15 pounds north at Welterweight, according to Ariel Helwani.
“It’ll begin airing here in the United States on ESPN television, so ESPN linear and ESPN+ May 30 to August 15,” Helwani reported on The Ringer MMA Show. “Then the plan is they will fight in the third quarter. Last I heard, it’s September.
“We were talking about the weight, I’ve confirmed it’s 170 [pounds],” he added. “I just wanted confirmation, for it to be 100 percent. So, that’s an interesting little wrinkle, especially for Chandler who isn’t used to fighting at that weight.”
Indeed, the date and location for the 170-pound Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler showdown is unknown at this time. Nevertheless, TUF 31 will debut on May 30, 2023, and run until Aug. 15, 2023.
“It is a pretty big deal that they’re putting it on ESPN, the actual channel,” Helwani commented. “That’s pretty damn cool.”
McGregor’s weight has been the subject of speculation for months as “The Notorious” has been flaunting his outrageous muscle gains on social media. Few thought he’d be able to squeeze back into the 155-pound division, where he was champion from Nov. 2016 to April 2018.
And while it’s not officially announced, it does look like the Irishman will “definitely” be a Welterweight moving forward.
McGregor has competed at 170 three times before. Both of his fights against Nate Diaz were contested at 170 pounds, and so was his fight against Donald Cerrone 2020. In all three fights, both he and his opponents were still basically Lightweight fighters. In this case, Chandler is a puffed up Lightweight, while McGregor is a proper Welterweight slab.
The Irish sports star hasn’t competed since suffering a bad leg break in his third fight against Dustin Poirier (see it). That injury was so severe that McGregor was quietly removed from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing program so doctors could properly treat him. That’s raised more than a few eyebrows as he continues to grow and grow and grow before our eyes. But, so long as he spends six months back in USADA’s drug testing program before fighting Chandler, he won’t have technically broken any rules.
USADA regularly updates its public testing database, but no tests have been logged in 2023 for McGregor yet. To be ready to fight for September, he’ll have to re-enter the pool in March at the latest.