UFC’s McGregor vows summer bout vs. Chandler

Sports

Conor McGregor could be making a return to the Octagon relatively soon after his feature film debut.

The former UFC double champion and biggest star in the history of the sport told ESPN on Tuesday that he will be coming back to fighting this summer, against Michael Chandler. The exact date and event are not yet known.

“We got confirmation a few days ago that it’s all systems go,” said McGregor, who is promoting his first acting role in the movie “Road House,” which premieres March 21 on Amazon Prime. “And ‘The Mac,’ ‘The Notorious’ will be returning to the UFC Octagon this summer.”

The UFC has yet to officially announce McGregor’s return. McGregor vs. Chandler has long been the plan, since last year when they coached opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. McGregor previously said the bout would be June 29 at UFC 303.

Chandler has been calling McGregor out publicly often, including on an episode of WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” last month. The UFC and WWE are sister companies under the publicly traded banner of TKO Group, owned by Hollywood media agency Endeavor.

“Shut up, Michael, you f—ing imbecile,” McGregor said. “The man doesn’t shut up. I seen him on ‘Raw.’ I like Mike — I’m going to bust him up. I’m going to bust Mike up, yeah? If I say it, I do it. … If I say it, it gets done. Put that on my stone.”

McGregor originally said in January that the fight would be at 185 pounds. He has fought most of his career at 145, 155 and 170 pounds. McGregor said Tuesday that he was having a bit of fun with Chandler regarding the weight and he’s not sure what weight class the bout will ultimately take place in.

Regardless, McGregor said he’s happy that there is something he can begin training for again, in earnest.

“I had [my training] camp in Dubai [months ago], I had a camp in Cannes,” McGregor said. “I was preparing, and then I was kind of getting nothing back. And then other things came up and I kind of dipped out. But now, it’s on. So, there’s no messing now. I cannot dip out now.”

McGregor, 35, has not fought since breaking his left leg in a fight with Dustin Poirier in July 2021. He’s currently in New York promoting “Road House,” but he said he plans on biking in Central Park as a cardio workout and that he has already hit pads there with his boxing coach, Phil Sutcliffe.

McGregor (22-6) was the first simultaneous UFC double champion, holding both the lightweight and featherweight titles in 2016. The Ireland native has been the headliner of some of the biggest pay-per-views in combat sports history, including a 2017 boxing match against Floyd Mayweather. When he returns, McGregor will be looking for just his second MMA win in the past eight years.

Regarding his future beyond the next fight, McGregor said he has two fights left on his UFC contract. He would love to fight Chandler and then his old rival Nate Diaz at the UFC’s Mexican Independence Day card in September, which is planned as the first combat sports event at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

“I think that’s an absolute perfection of a fight,” McGregor said of Diaz at the Sphere.

If those fights come to fruition, McGregor said he’s unsure about the circumstances that might unfold.

“Do we sign a new deal?” McGregor said of the UFC. “Do I go? Am I a free agent? I love the UFC dearly. My heart is in the UFC — my catalogue, my life. I love everyone in the company and all the fighters and all the events and all the shows and cards. I wish to continue this. How that looks, I have no clue.”

McGregor said he’s not sure what will come after that, but he expects there to be “more fighting,” as well as movies — as a leading man. McGregor stars as a villain in “Road House,” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. He said he likes the idea of playing multiple kinds of roles in different films, like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone.

“I certainly feel many great movies could be revolved around me, and unique movies,” McGregor said. “There’s Stallone movies, the Schwarzenegger movies. There really, truly could be McGregor movies and it could be a broad array of movies, and that would really light up the game.”

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