Home Sports Conor McGregor withdraws from UFC 303 main event vs. Michael Chandler due to injury

Conor McGregor withdraws from UFC 303 main event vs. Michael Chandler due to injury

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Conor McGregor attends the UK special screening of

Conor McGregor has appeared in more Hollywood movies than UFC fights since summer 2022. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Conor McGregor’s nearly three-year break from the UFC will be even longer, as the Irishman pulled out of his UFC 303 fight against Michael Chandler on Thursday.

UFC president Dana White. announced McGregor’s departuresaying only that the Irishman had suffered an injury.

The main event, which will take place on June 29, will be replaced by a light heavyweight title rematch between champion Alex Pereira and former champion Jiri Procházka. Pereira previously defeated Procházka via second-round TKO to win the chronically vacant belt at UFC 295 last November.

The co-main event between former light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill and Carlos Ulberg will also be replaced by a fight between Brian Ortega and Diego Lopes due to an injury to Hill. Instead, Ulberg will face Anthony Smith.

It was a tough day overall for the UFC, as the Fight Night scheduled the week before 303 also saw its main event between Khamzat Chimaev and Robert Whittaker. derailed due to medical issue with Chimaev. The UFC announced earlier Thursday that Whittaker will face Ikram Aliskerov.

McGregor last fought at UFC 264 in July 2021, when he lost a trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier by technical knockout after breaking his tibia at the end of the first round. It’s been more than four years since he last won a fight and almost eight years since he won a title fight.

Fans awaiting McGregor’s long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 303 first saw red flags when a press conference with Chandler scheduled for June 3 was abruptly postponed, with little explanation from the promotion.

Like rumors – and a video of McGregor partying with his fiancee — began to spin, McGregor posted on X that “a series of obstacles” had caused the postponement, but insisted he was still looking forward to fighting again.

Anyone encouraged by that explanation would have later been disheartened when Veteran MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported On Tuesday, the UFC was testing the possibility of a McGregor replacement or an entirely new fight.

Those anxieties dissipated over the next week, when Chandler said everything was fine in an interview and the UFC promoted the fight as usual on a Fight Night, but Helwani reported the following Tuesday There was growing pessimism and the promotion was once again exploring the search for a replacement.

helwani reported shortly after McGregor’s retirement that the former champion had suffered the injury a day or two before that press conference, and McGregor’s team hoped in vain that he would recover in time.

This latest development is particularly tough on Chandler, who has been more than patient as he waits for what would be by far the most lucrative fight of his career. Chandler last entered the octagon in November 2022, when he also lost to Poirier. Months later, he and McGregor were set for a fight as coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter,” but months passed without an actual date for the fight. That time span included the UFC’s controversial split with USADA over McGregor’s re-entry into the testing pool.

The fight date was finally announced in April, and no one was happier than Chandler.

McGregor’s most recent loss to Poirier was a low point in a career that was already trending downward, at least when it came to performance in the cage.

McGregor sat on the mat, with a badly broken leg, hurling insult after insult and making a gun sign at Poirier, who remains one of the most popular fighters in the UFC. McGregor had spent the entire pre-fight process making statements about Poirier’s family that clearly crossed a line, to the point that Poirier’s wife, Jolie, was seen mocking him while she received medical attention.

It was a moment of soul-searching for McGregor, who at the time had lost three of his last four fights, with two losses to Poirier and one to the now-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov. Yes, he was (and still is) the biggest draw in MMA, but the former two-belt champion had never defended either belt and was stripped of both due to inactivity.

So McGregor went through a slow recovery process and definitely didn’t return to the UFC as soon as he could. Instead, he focused on his considerable business portfolio and made his acting debut as the antagonist in Jake Gyllenhaal’s adaptation of “Road House.”

There were also some disturbing allegations, not to mention whatever.

And now that that three-year road back to the UFC has been extended, one can only wonder how much longer the promotion will be able to play with a fighter it has championed and coddled at every turn.

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