Frustrated Conor McGregor vents about UFC return, gives timeline: ‘I’ve been kept from my living’

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Conor McGregor was in attendance to watch Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou box Saturday – and his competitive juices were flowing.

Recently readmitted into the UFC drug-testing pool, McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) will be eligible to return to competition in April. A fired-up and frustrated McGregor indicated there will be no wasted time after that.

“I’m happy with April,” McGregor told MMA Junkie and other reporters on the event’s red carpet. “I would’ve loved it earlier, but if I’m to be honest and be realistic, for my fans, I want to put in a good run, build myself back, and that’s it. It’s looking like April, mixed martial arts.”

McGregor directed much of his fire toward his nearly three-year layoff and recent delays that seemingly stemmed from the UFC’s anti-doping partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which will terminate at the end of the year.

“I’ve been kept from my living for almost three years now,” McGregor said. “Understand that. I came through what I came through. I’m sitting on an injury and a loss. You hear what Alexander Volkanovski said? I relate. I must return to my way of living. This is my job. It’s beyond frustrating. … I just want the date. Give me the date, please. That’s it.”

McGregor, 35, most recently competed in July 2021 at UFC 264 when he suffered a broken leg against Dustin Poirier. The injury was severe and resulted in surgery and extensive rehabilitation. During his recovery, McGregor was removed from the USADA testing pool, sparking debate about whether fighters who suffer catastrophic injuries should be exempt from being flagged for certain substances medically necessary for their rehab.

“If this was boxing, if I was a boxer, yes, after my injury, the height I reached to belts to pay-per-view numbers, they’d put me back in against this guy, who has never boxed before,” McGregor said. “That’s what they’d do in boxing to build me back up. But no, you get thrown into the shark’s den, the lion’s den in MMA. That’s the way this is, which is fine. But I just want to get back in there and get active. I want to become the best me before I call it a day. For that to happen, for any fighter to be the best they can be, they need consistent competition, so I’m eager for that.”

Overall, McGregor said he’s jonesing to compete. While it’s unclear whomm his opponent will be, McGregor coached “The Ultimate Fighter 31” against Michael Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC). In his assessment, the matchmaking wind still blows in Chandler’s direction.

“It’s whoever they want,” McGregor said. “I won’t ever say no. I just want a date. I won’t ever say no to no one, yeah? Chandler is what it seems to be. It does not matter to me as long as I get back in there.”

For more on the matchup, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Fury vs. Ngannou.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie