Conor McGregor holds high aspirations for the upcoming chapter of his career.
The renowned former two-division UFC champion is poised to make his comeback in late 2023 against Michael Chandler, following their coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter 31. The show's filming has already concluded, and it is set to premiere on Tuesday night. McGregor's last fight took place in July 2021, resulting in a severe leg injury during his trilogy battle against Dustin Poirier. Nevertheless, McGregor is optimistic about the prospects of facing Chandler, finding the matchup to be favorable.
“Not only just a return — the greatest return in combat sports,” McGregor said in a UFC-produced interview. “This is going to be [that]. I’m going to kick this guy in the head. He’s just tailor-made for being kicked all over the place, and that’s what I’m aiming for. I am aiming to wrap this steel bar around the opponent. And you’re going to see a visual of the leg hanging off [at UFC 264] and then you’re going to see a visual off a head hanging off. So I’m excited for that and motivated for that, and steady making my way towards it.”
Although an exact timeframe for McGregor's return has yet to be confirmed, UFC president Dana White recently disclosed that the promotion is aiming for a late November or December comeback. Following his leg injury, McGregor temporarily withdrew from the UFC's anti-doping program in conjunction with USADA. However, he must resume testing for six months before becoming eligible to compete again.
Michael Chandler, who made his debut in the UFC in 2021 after an illustrious career with Bellator, has encountered mixed success with a 2-3 record in his five appearances. Nonetheless, he has swiftly emerged as one of the most exhilarating fighters in the UFC's lightweight division. His intense bout against Justin Gaethje even earned MMA Fighting's prestigious Fight of the Year accolade for 2021.
“He’s put on some exciting fights. He’s eager. He’s willing to fight. He’s a gamer, you’d call him. And he’s not a bad fighter either, so I’m happy with the opponent,” McGregor said.
“I don’t actually care. I accepted this show, it was me and Chandler, so again it doesn’t bother me. What do I hope for in this world? I hope for 100 more fights. I hope for consistency. I hope for a run. I’ve had this on, off, on, off for the last while and I just want to get this nice consistency going. And I’m now, when I come back, this is where it’s at.”
Consistency has been a longstanding desire for McGregor throughout his career.
Since his triumph over Eddie Alvarez in 2016, which crowned him as a two-division champion, McGregor has competed in only four fights. Unfortunately, he has endured a meager 1-3 record during that period, with his sole victory occurring in a 2020 bout against Donald Cerrone. McGregor has taken multiple extended hiatuses since his encounter with Alvarez, but his upcoming return against Chandler will mark the lengthiest break he has experienced in his UFC tenure. The lack of consistency has worn on McGregor, and he is eager to put an end to it.
“One [fight per year] is not [enough]. I need [more]. I want four — three or four,” McGregor said. “If I can get where I need to get to, three or four a year is perfect. One is madness. And it’s been one, one, one on, one year off, one on, one year off, and then obviously with the leg thing it’s been a bit longer.”
McGregor, 34, reiterated his interest in fighting at both lightweight and welterweight, but also mentioned a matchup against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski “could be a nice one at some stage.” He and Volkanovski even traded barbs over Twitter on Tuesday regarding a potential matchup.
Let’s do it at Lightweight 🧨 https://t.co/NhWDOJRAyx— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) May 30, 2023
First up, though, is TUF 31 and Chandler — as well as a late 2023 return that McGregor hopes marks the beginning of a more active chapter for his MMA career.
“We’re not done yet,” McGregor said. “We’re not done yet, so by the time it’s done, I feel I’ll have a full circle and I’ll be where I want to be.”