Of course, Conor McGregor put his stain on UFC 290 last night (Sat., July 8, 2023), tweeting during the pay-per-view (PPV) event that his long-awaited return to competition against Michael Chandler would be taking place in December.
But, not so fast: Dana White put serious doubt on that timeline, urging the press to stop speculating on one of the biggest fights of the year. He’s had just about enough of all that, especially after the “scumbag media” misrepresented recent comments he’d made about McGregor’s participation in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing program (or lack thereof).
“You know, there’s a lot of business that needs to be handled before we talk about this,” White said at UFC 290’s post-fight press conference when asked about McGregor’s tweets. “And I was doing an interview on Friday, and a bunch of f—ing scumbags wrote stories that I said, ‘F— USADA, I don’t care what USADA says.’ It’s not even remotely close to what I said, so first of all I’d like to say f— you to everybody that wrote that story, number one. And number two, there’s a lot of stuff that has to go on before he fights.”
Dana White provides an update on McGregor vs. Chandler.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) July 6, 2023
McGregor is still yet to re-enter the USADA pool, but is still holding out hope that the fight happens this year. pic.twitter.com/UEVugjEN9H
“My point was: no matter who’s talking about it, whether it’s USADA or whoever and this and that, it’s not even worth talking about right now,” White clarified. “Everybody wants to keep bringing it up so that pieces of s— can write stories like that. Never did I say ‘I don’t give a s— what USADA thinks’ or disrespected USADA, or anything like that.
“It doesn’t matter what anybody says,” he finished. “I don’t know how this whole thing’s going to play out. Let’s wait and see.”
White hasn’t missed an opportunity over the past few weeks to hit the gas on Elon Musk vs. Mark Zuckerberg, but he continues to waffle about Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler in 2023 — a fight with an entire television series on ESPN — The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 — built around it.
Here’s our theory: UFC and “The Notorious” clearly want McGregor vs. Chandler to go down in December on the final PPV event of the year. But, they can’t say that without first dealing with the USADA situation. The clock has run out on Mac spending six months in the pool if he’s to compete in 2023. That means UFC is going to have to request an exemption from USADA to let McGregor skip the waiting period.
That’s something USADA allows, but we don’t know what the process to get an exemption entails. There’s definitely paperwork to fill out, and we imagine there’s a lot given all the top “medical care” McGregor’s clearly been receiving over the past two years. Once the paperwork is filed, drug testing will certainly resume. And everyone involved is going to be certain there’s no errant picograms floating around in McGregor’s system.
As White suggested, it’s a whole thing that needs to be dealt with.
One thing is for sure: there’s no way USADA would be okay with a date being announced before exemption has even been applied for. UFC may be paying them millions of dollars to drug test their roster, but so do a lot of other organizations. USADA has a reputation to protect, and they’re clearly concerned that this McGregor situation could compromise that.
So, until the whole USADA situation gets untangled, UFC is going to continue to be very vague and careful when it comes to McGregor’s return date. McGregor himself?
For more TUF 31-related (and Conor McGregor) news and notes click here.