The UFC landscape might eventually see a significant bout between former champions Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler, but not this year since Conor still, after many months, has not taken the required drug tests.
Questions about McGregor’s eligibility due to his absence from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool complicate the anticipated matchup. McGregor, the former two-division champion, has not stepped into the UFC octagon since July 2021. And despite serving as a coach on the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Michael Chandler, the Irish fighter has yet to submit a sample to the USADA.
UFC rules mandate fighters to be in the testing pool for at least six months before competing – ruling out December and UFC 296.
Chandler, speaking at UFC 292 in Boston, appeared undeterred by these requirements. “I can fight Conor with one day in the USADA testing pool or one year in the USADA testing pool. It’s not going to make a difference,” the lightweight contender said.
The UFC had initially hoped for a December showdown between the two fighters, especially after they mentored fighters in the recent season of the reality show. Brad Katona, representing McGregor’s team, claimed the bantamweight title, while Chandler’s mentee, Kurt Holobaugh, emerged as the featherweight champion.
While McGregor’s commitment to return to the octagon was initially strong, recent voice notes posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, hint at doubts.
“They’re not going to let me fight in December, ladies and gentlemen,” McGregor was quoted as saying.
Chandler, who hasn’t competed since his loss to Dustin Poirier last November, is optimistic about this happening, even if Conor keeps tossing out random reasons to keep delaying, playing victim, or any other shenanigans we’ve come to expect from him this year since he launched his floundering comeback.
Conor McGregor claims he was ready to fight on December 16th. But it’s now not going to happen.
Love Conor, but he’s gone from a bloke who will fight anyone at anytime, to just calling out big names and not fighting. pic.twitter.com/L1HCGYkyXr
— Fight Club 247 (@fightclub247) August 21, 2023
Addressing the six-month rule, Chandler asked, “Are we splitting hairs with the whole, ‘He’s got to be in for six months’ thing?” He also pointed out other fighters who may not have adhered strictly to this rule. If the December date doesn’t pan out, Chandler, looking ahead, mentioned the possibility of headlining UFC 300 next spring.
“Whether it’s me and Conor, or me and whoever, I’d like to be on UFC 300,” he said, emphasizing his significant rise in the UFC after spending 12 years outside the organization.
Both fighters have shown a passion for competing against each other, making their potential clash one of the most highly-anticipated bouts in recent UFC memory. The question remains: Is Conor McGregor the only reason why we don’t know when this fight will happen?