Conor McGregor’s Outlook on UFC Comeback: Fight in December Unlikely, Perceived Restrictions

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LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Mixed Martial Artist Conor McGregor acknowledges the fans prior to the Heavyweight fight between Derek Chisora and Gerald Washington at The O2 Arena on August 12, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Conor McGregor was hoping to make his return to the UFC in December against Michael Chandler, but it sounds like he’s accepted that it’s unlikely to happen after not reentering the USADA testing pool in time.

“They’re not going to let me fight in December, ladies and gentlemen,” McGregor said in a series of audio notes on X (h/t Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie). “You’ve seen Chris Weidman [at UFC 292]. Imagine what that injury is. I feel like I’m being kept from my livelihood, and I’ve been feeling this for years. I’m not going to air grievances. I’m going to buoy down and soldier on. I’m ready. I wanted an announcement for [UFC 296 on] Dec. 16. I’ve given everything. So, it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.”

It was just a week ago that McGregor mapped out an ambitious plan for his return to the Octagon, naming three opponents he’s eyeing.

“Chandler next in December and then [Justin] Gaethje, BMF, and then we’ll do the Nate [Diaz] trilogy,” McGregor told TalkSport.

However, the UFC’s anti-doping program, which is led by USADA, requires fighters to
be in the testing pool for at least six months before being cleared to compete. ESPN’s Marc Raimondi noted that the USADA’s website shows that McGregor has been out of the testing pool since the third quarter of 2022.

McGregor hasn’t fought since he suffered a broken leg in his July 2021 bout against Dustin Poirier.

The UFC once granted an exemption to Brock Lesnar to allow him to skip the six-month testing period to compete at UFC 200 in 2016, but he later tested positive for a banned substance. Granting McGregor a similar exemption likely wouldn’t sit well with other fighters.

McGregor coached against Chandler on the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter reality competition series. The two of them are supposed to fight each other at some point, but Chandler recently said he’s losing patience with waiting on McGregor.

Bohn noted that UFC president Dana White said after Saturday’s UFC 292 that there was no update on the timeline for McGregor’s potential return and it’s more likely to happen in 2024.

McGregor didn’t address his testing status in his series of audio notes, but he pleaded with Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel and the Nevada Athletic Commission to figure out a way to facilitate his return.

“I hold the power,” McGregor said. “I’m going to keep doing my thing. I’m in a great spot, and I’ll see yas all soon. F–king early next year, hopefully. Please God, someone. Ari, Ari. My man. I’m ready, yeah? Dec. 16, I am ready. Nevada State Athletic Commission, Bob Bennett may have retired. Un-retire. Because when I’m around the game–ring Bob Bennett. Tell the commission what’s the story, because I’m being kept from my livelihood here. Turns out Bob’s retired and I’m like, ‘What the f–k?’ I’ve been out of this game the longest. I’m on top of this yacht at the minute, but I’ve been on the top of the game f–king long.”

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