Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler is shaping up to be one of the biggest fights of 2023 ... if it happens this year.
McGregor and Chandler will face off as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 31, which premieres on ESPN on May 30, 2023. The idea is the two will fight to cap off the season, but as of now there’s no locked date for the bout.
And UFC President, Dana White, is keeping expectations loose as far as when it could happen.
Following UFC Charlotte, White admitted he didn’t know when McGregor vs. Chandler would scrap. After UFC Vegas 73, he gave some more context as to what needed to be figured out, and it boils down to McGregor’s United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) status.
“There’s a fight,” White said at the post-event press conference. “He has to get into the USADA pool first. He’s filling out the paperwork. I don’t know how soon that will be done or what’s going on, but that’s his business, that he’s handling with USADA. But, it’s all in motion.”
“[November or December] is what we’re shooting for,” he added. “Hopefully, we have a big fight in Madison Square Garden in November, and then a big fight in December.”
McGregor’s form filling with the drug testing agency may be more extensive than most. “The Notorious” left the USADA program after breaking his leg in July 2021 (see it), presumably so that doctors could provide him treatments that wouldn’t have been legal under their strict guidelines. Re-entering the pool may require significantly more paperwork than usual given the circumstances.
Dana White confirms there will be announcement for the McGregor/Chandler fight during TUF. Says Conor still has to get into USADA pool. Says hopefully November or December for the fight.#UFC pic.twitter.com/SdxmjxsNem— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) May 21, 2023
It would be pretty ridiculous for McGregor to come back only to immediately get banned for two years because of non-disclosure or a picogram of something showing up from his rehab days. So, “The Notorious” is taking his time, and sounds confident a fight date will be settled as TUF 31 airs later this month.
“It will be announced during The Ultimate Fighter,” McGregor told media over the weekend. “So, The Ultimate Fighter is airing now in a couple of days on ESPN, and by the time that show finishes we’ll have a date and everything set for the fans.”
For more TUF 31-related news and notes on the upcoming season click here.