Conor McGregor to face Michael Chandler, serve as TUF coach

February 4, 2023, 12:59 PM

Conor McGregor's return has been set, as the former UFC double champion will coach against lightweight star Michael Chandler on the next season of "The Ultimate Fighter" before facing him in the Octagon.

UFC president Dana White announced McGregor and Chandler as the coaches on social media Saturday. No date or location was announced for the McGregor-Chandler fight, which will likely take place at 170 pounds.

Chandler told ESPN's Brett Okamoto on Saturday the high-stakes bout should take place in September.

"That would make the most sense to me," said Chandler. "Obviously, Conor is driven by pay-per-view buys. You want to keep that tension [from the reality show] as close to the fight as possible. You start pushing it to the end of the year, other big fights are happening ... September would be absolutely perfect."

The 31st season of "The Ultimate Fighter," which will air on ESPN and ESPN+, will run from May 30 to Aug. 15.

McGregor, who coached on the reality series in 2015 against Urijah Faber, has not competed since breaking his left leg in a fight with Dustin Poirier in July 2021. Chandler has been calling for a fight with McGregor for more than a year.

McGregor is not currently in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's drug testing pool, the agency said in a statement Saturday. Before he can fight, USADA said McGregor would need to be in the testing pool for at least six months and have two negative tests.

A former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, McGregor (22-6) was the first fighter to hold two separate weight division titles in UFC concurrently. The Irish-born fighter holds the fastest finish in UFC title fight history, a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo for the featherweight belt in 2015, but the 34-year-old has dropped two straight and three of his past four.

Chandler (23-8) is a former three-time Bellator lightweight champion. The Missouri native came to UFC as a free agent in 2021 and has already faced some of the best fighters in the promotion's 155-pound division. The 36-year old is coming off a loss to Poirier at UFC 281 in November and has lost three of his last four bouts with a Knockout of the Year victory in May against Tony Ferguson mixed in.

Chandler vows to take the fight to McGregor, going as far to predict a stoppage in the highly-anticipated clash.

"I'm going to get in his face right away, make him take a backwards step right away," Chandler told ESPN. "He's going to feel my presence from the very beginning, and from there it's wherever the fight takes us. If I want to pick him up and put him down, I'll pick him up and put him down and put a beating on him and get a sub that way. I believe I get a finish of Conor McGregor in the second round, that's my 'Mystic Mike' prediction."

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