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Back on the table! Conor McGregor declares December fight with Michael Chandler is lit | UFC 296

After suggesting he wouldn’t fight by the end of the year, “The Notorious” is suddenly confident a return in 2023 could happen after all.

Boxing In London - Anthony Joshua v Robert Helenius Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Conor McGregor may fight by the end of 2023 after all ...

“The Notorious” recently stated that it looked like a fight against Michael Chandler at UFC 296 on Dec. 16, 2023, wasn’t going to happen even though he was ready to compete on that date. McGregor hasn’t fought since breaking his leg badly in a 2021 fight against Dustin Poirier. Since then, he’s been out of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing pool, and getting back in has proven to be a major sticking point in his comeback.

“They’re not going to let me fight in December, ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a voice recording on Twitter / X. “I’m ready. I’m ready, yeah? I wanted and announced December 16th. I’ve given everything. So, you know, it’s not gonna happen. It doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen.”

Who knows what happened between that message and today (Tues., Aug. 22, 2023), but McGregor is suddenly sounding optimistic about UFC 296 again.

“December is back on the table!” he declared in a new tweet. “Ready in both stances,” he added in a follow up.

UFC 296 is just three months away and still doesn’t have a main event booked, although the promotion has options. A fight between welterweight champion Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington is still floating around, waiting for a date. New bantamweight champion, Sean O’Malley, has said he wants to make a quick turnaround and defend his title before the end of the year. The Light Heavyweight title still sits vacant, too.

So, by no means is UFC hard up for a headline fight.

Could McGregor actually fight on Dec. 16? He could if UFC grants him a controversial “Exceptional Circumstances” exemption to the six-month testing period required by USADA to compete after a fighter returns to the program. That’s always been the situation, and it’s an open question as to why UFC hasn’t simply pulled the trigger and done that for its biggest star.

Is it because McGregor muscled up an entire weight class while recovering from his leg injury? Or, has the recent negative press caused by a rape allegation making them leery of bringing him back? The Irish sports star has also shared a ton of videos where he’s drinking whiskey and stout rather than training. That’s a big reason many fans think he’s talking big with little intention of actually following through on a fight.

Nevertheless, a decision will have to be made soon if UFC wants to place McGregor on its big year-end December pay-per-view (PPV) card in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.

For more TUF 31-related (and Conor McGregor) news and notes click here.

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