945 days. That’s how long it’s been since we last saw Conor McGregor inside the UFC octagon.
Few could have imagined, when he produced one of the great title fights against Eddie Alvarez in 2016, that he would win only one more fight in the following seven years.
But that is the situation the Irish superstar finds himself in today. McGregor’s celebrity continues to grow. McGregor, the fighter, continues to fall more and more into the background.
Of course, a terrible injury is largely to blame for this. The 35-year-old’s last fight ended in disaster when he broke his leg in the first round of his trilogy showdown with Dustin Poirier in the summer of 2021.
Some saw the gruesome injury as the end of his career, but McGregor was quick to assure fans that he would return.
The long-awaited return of Conor McGregor has been a topic of conversation in MMA for a long time.
It’s been two and a half years and fans still know little about when, or if, this return will occur.
UFC president Dana White gave an update this week, but it wasn’t the news McGregor fans were hoping for.
He announced that ‘Notorious’ is scheduled to return in the fall of this year, a blow to those who had held out faint hope that McGregor could headline the historic UFC 300 pay-per-view or return in the summer at the latest.
McGregor had taken to Instagram to express his frustration at the lack of movement regarding his return in a clear message to his paymasters earlier in the week, writing “set this damn date.”
That’s a sentiment that will resonate with many, especially considering that filming for season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter took place around this time last year.
McGregor and fellow lightweight Michael Chandler were trainers on the reality show, which traditionally culminates with the two trainers facing off in the octagon.
McGregor had been due to fight Michael Chandler for months since Ultimate Fighter
The 35-year-old is clearly desperate for an announcement about his next fight.
The series aired in the summer and was meant to be the perfect hype machine before they faced off in late 2023.
Days passed without McGregor being enrolled in the USADA testing program and it became clear that he would not be seen in 2023, as fighters were not allowed to compete until six months after re-entering the pool.
Chandler, knowing it would be the biggest payday of his career, was clearly willing to wait, but the normally active American is still sitting on his thumbs.
McGregor, who re-entered the testing pool in October, was highly critical of USADA for the situation while also hinting at interest in other opponents instead of Chandler.
Hopes of an earlier return for the Dubliner were sparked when it was announced that the eight-year partnership between the UFC and USADA would come to an end in January this year, with disagreements over McGregor largely to blame.
McGregor has fully recovered from his broken leg and says he is ready to fight
Speaking in November, McGregor said: “April is a good start for me and I would be happy with that.”
“I’m in a good place, I’ve been training and I’ve also left. But I’ve been training and April seems like a good time to come back.”
That would coincide with UFC 300 and it seemed as if these stars were aligning for the sport’s biggest star to headline the historic card.
However, McGregor’s tone soon changed and the former fightweight champion took to social media on New Year’s Eve to “announce” a July date.
“Ladies and gentlemen, a happy new year to everyone.” McGregor said in a video posted on X.
‘I would like to announce the return date of ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor. ‘The biggest comeback of all time will take place in Las Vegas for International Fight Week on June 29 and opponent, Michael Chandler. And the weight, Mr. Chandler, 185 pounds.
Chandler appreciated the message and responded, “I always said I loved you at your greatest, your worst, and your best.” She said that X. 185 would fit me well.
However, UFC 300 (April 13) continues to approach and no main event has been set.
There appears to be little more chance for the UFC to give the show the main event it deserves and McGregor tweeted last month that his presence on the card would “seal the deal.” Chandler quickly responded again, writing, “I agree, see you soon.”
McGregor appears fit and ready to fight, regularly sharing training videos, back in the testing pool and fully recovered from his leg injury.
But Dana White poured cold water on the UFC 300 speculation in his interview with Pat McAfee last week, saying, “eventually.” Hopefully this year. There is no date. I hope autumn comes. We’ll (hopefully) finish it in the fall.’
This latest considerable delay has frustrated fans who suggest that McGregor, who is not getting any younger, may never return.
It’s no secret that the Irishman has a lot of things to do besides fight. He is now a household name and has made more than enough money to never compete again.
His Proper Twelve whiskey business has earned him hundreds of millions and he will star alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in a remake of the classic US action thriller Road House, which will be released on Amazon in March.
The Irishman continues to take advantage of his success and fortune while waiting to fight.
While he may be training, it’s clear he’s still having fun and enjoying the good things in life.
The former champion’s lifestyle is a world apart from that of most fighters and a growing sector of the UFC fan base will tell you they are losing interest in seeing him return.
However, that sector still represents a minority of the fan base.
There is no doubt that a return, if it ultimately takes place, would generate huge business for the UFC. So if it’s ready, what are you waiting for?