Is Conor McGregor Really Coming Back?
Conor McGregor, the former two-division UFC champion and one of the most popular and controversial figures in mixed martial arts, has been out of action since July 2021, when he suffered a gruesome leg injury in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier.
McGregor lost the fight by doctor stoppage at the end of the first round, marking his second consecutive defeat and third loss in his last four UFC bouts.
Since then, McGregor has undergone surgery and rehabilitation, and has been teasing his fans with updates on his recovery and potential return to the octagon. On January 1, 2024, McGregor finally announced his comeback date and opponent, via a video posted on his social media accounts.
“I’ll be back, for the greatest comeback of all time, on June 29, 2024, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, against Michael Chandler,” McGregor said in the video, while showing off his healed leg and his trademark swagger.
McGregor’s choice of opponent is somewhat surprising, as many expected him to face Poirier for the fourth time, or to challenge Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title. However, McGregor explained his decision by saying that he wanted to face a new challenge and a fresh face, and that he respected Chandler’s skills and style.
“Chandler is a former Bellator champion, a great wrestler, a powerful striker, and a game opponent. He had a good run in the UFC, but he’s never faced anyone like me. I’m going to knock him out in the first round, and show the world that I’m still the best fighter on the planet,” McGregor said.
Chandler, who joined the UFC in 2020 after a successful career in Bellator, where he won the lightweight title three times, responded to McGregor’s announcement by accepting the fight and expressing his excitement.
“I’m honored and grateful to be chosen by Conor McGregor for his comeback fight. He’s a legend of the sport, a global superstar, and a formidable opponent. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and I’m ready to shock the world and prove that I’m the next UFC lightweight champion,” Chandler said.
The question that remains is: Is Conor McGregor really coming back, or is this just another publicity stunt? Will he be able to recapture his former glory, or will he fall short against a hungry and motivated challenger?
On January 27, 2024, McGregor added more fuel to the fire by posting a cryptic tweet that suggested he might be returning sooner than expected, at the historic UFC 300 event in April. The tweet read: “McGregor on 300 seals the deal.”
The tweet sent MMA fans into a frenzy, as they speculated on what it could mean. Some thought that McGregor might be replacing Chandler as the challenger for Oliveira’s title, while others hoped for a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, who also responded to the tweet with “Real war!”
However, UFC president Dana White denied that McGregor was ready to fight in April, and said that the Irishman was still recovering from his injury.
Before they face each other in the octagon, McGregor and Chandler had to deal with each other as coaches of rival teams in the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC-produced reality show that aired on ESPN+ from May to August 2024.
The show was filled with drama, tension, and trash talk, as McGregor and Chandler clashed verbally on several occasions.
McGregor has not commented on White’s statements, and has left his tweet up for interpretation. Whether he is serious about fighting at UFC 300, or just trying to generate some buzz, remains unclear. But one thing is for sure: McGregor knows how to keep the MMA world on its toes.