Michael Chandler remains optimistic about his chances of fighting Conor McGregor in the near future.
Since joining the UFC in 2021, Chandler has been eyeing a highly-anticipated matchup with “The Notorious,” who made a spectacular debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257. Chandler’s UFC journey has been filled with exciting fights in his five bouts, bringing him closer to his goal of facing McGregor. However, nothing is confirmed yet.
Both former lightweight champions are currently coaching opposite each other on the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Traditionally, the coaches fight at the end of the season. Unfortunately, McGregor suffered a severe leg injury in his last bout against Dustin Poirier in July 2021, which has forced him to take a break and leave the USADA testing pool. McGregor will need to undergo six months of testing before becoming eligible to compete in the octagon again. With the window for his return in 2023 closed, many question if the fight will happen at all.
“I’m someone who loves the fight game, and people enjoy watching me in the cage. I believe Conor will come back. I don’t think he wants to tarnish his legacy by leading us down a path of doing The Ultimate Fighter and fighting me, only to back out later. He wants to fight,” said Chandler in an interview with Daniel Cormier. “There was a countdown with USADA, six months and all that stuff. It’s not for me to decide. Exemptions are being discussed, and everything is on the table. What I do know is that I’m focusing on what I can control, and I genuinely believe I’ll fight Conor within the next six months. It will be one of the biggest pay-per-view events we’ve ever seen, and I intend to knock him out in the first two rounds.”
Interestingly, Chandler has already faced Poirier in the octagon since McGregor’s most recent appearance. Their fight took place last November, resulting in a third-round rear-naked choke victory for Poirier.
If Chandler stays committed to his desire to fight McGregor, he will face the longest break in his 14-year career.
“Discussions are ongoing every day,” Chandler explained. “It’s a constantly changing situation, and I understand the curiosity, annoyance, and eagerness for answers. People want answers now. With a fight of this magnitude, involving two of the most exciting fighters in the sport… Obviously, Conor and his comeback, ‘the greatest comeback in combat sports history,’ as he calls it, with his documentary. And someone like me who loves to fight and stay active, I’m a guy who draws crowds. Everyone wants answers, but we all need to be patient.”
Chandler emphasized the need for patience during this period, acknowledging the lull in his career due to his participation in The Ultimate Fighter.
“There’s still a lot of time left, and I knew what I signed up for when I decided to do The Ultimate Fighter. There was always going to be a lull and an extended period of time. We’re not even halfway through the show yet,” he added.
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