Conor McGregor's return to UFC revealed in bombshell announcement

The Irishman will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon later in 2023.

Conor McGregor, pictured here in the UFC in 2021.
Conor McGregor will make his return to the UFC in 2023. Image: Getty

Dana White has revealed Conor McGregor will fight Michael Chandler this year in what will be his first bout since July 2021. The 34-year-old McGregor hasn't competed in the Octagon since suffering a broken leg in a loss to Dustin Poirier over 18 months ago.

But UFC boss White announced on Saturday that McGregor and Chandler will go head-to-head after they coach in season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter. McGregor and three-time Bellator lightweight champion Chandler will coach the two teams in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, before stepping into the Octagon for a fight.

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However the details have yet to be finalised about when and where the fight will occur. “I do not have a date or location for that, but we will announce it soon,” White said.

The show will air on ESPN from May 30 to August 15, so fans can tentatively expect to see the fight around that time. McGregor also coached on the reality series in 2015 against Urijah Faber.

Coincidentally, it will also mark Chandler's first fight since losing to Poirier at UFC 281 in November. Last May, Chandler called out McGregor after delivering an incredible head kick knockout to defeat Tony Ferguson at UFC 247.

“Conor McGregor, you have to come back and fight somebody,” Chandler said in his post-match interview. “I am the most entertaining lightweight on the planet, but I’ll up the stakes, Conor.

"I want you at your biggest. I want you at your baddest and at your best. You and me at 170 this summer, this fall, this winter. Holla at your boy.”

Michael Chandler, pictured here kicking Dustin Poirier during their fight at UFC 281.
Michael Chandler kicks Dustin Poirier during their fight at UFC 281. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC) (Chris Unger via Getty Images)

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McGregor responded at the time by admitting he liked the idea, “definitely” at some point. After McGregor was recently spotted looking much bigger than he did previously, Chandler said: “I am walking around almost 190 right now and I stay lean, because I’m always training.

“I’m not getting fluffy or fat, and I’m always around that 185-190. So 170, for me, would be a dream come true. I don’t like making 155.

“I still think I’m bigger than Conor McGregor at this point, even with his regimen that he’s been on. I want the fight. Everybody knows that. The fans want the fight.

Conor McGregor, pictured here leaving Blanchardstown District Court in Dublin.
Conor McGregor leaves Blanchardstown District Court in Dublin. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images) (Brian Lawless - PA Images via Getty Images)

“Dana White has gone public saying he wants that fight so the UFC wants the fight. I’ve actually heard from numerous UFC people that that’s the fight that a lot of people are talking about.

“Man, huge fight. Could you imagine the first round? Two dudes trying to finish each other in the first round. Massive.”

McGregor is 22-6 in his career, while Chandler is 23-8. McGregor will need to re-enter the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s drug testing pool in order to compete in the UFC.

He must be entered for a minimum of six months unless granted an exemption. Last November he said: “I’m clear for testing in February. I will complete my two tests per USADA and we are booking a fight.”

with agencies

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