The matchup between “The Ultimate Fighter 31” coaches McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was first targeted to happen in the fourth quarter of this year. The timeline got pushed as McGregor delayed his re-entry in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool, which requires six months and two clean tests before being cleared for competition.
McGregor, who hasn’t competed since he suffered a broken leg in his July 2021 trilogy-fight loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, finally joined the testing pool in early October, setting in motion his highly anticipated comeback.
After a frustrated McGregor told MMA Junkie this past month in Saudi Arabia that negotiations were ongoing for an April return, his coach, John Kavanagh of SBG Ireland, said the date had again been pushed back to the summer.
While all the focus has been around McGregor, the frustration from Chandler’s side has slowly began to boil to the surface. White, however, insists Chandler, who has already been out of action for more than a year, is in position to be patient.
“The good thing for guys like Chandler, and you know there’s a lot of sh*t talk about fighter pay and all that other sh*t – you don’t see these guys hurrying up to fight,” White said on a recent episode of the “Full Send Podcast” with the Nelk Boys. “Jon Jones takes off for f*cking years. Chandler can hang out and wait for f*cking Conor. When you think about Chandler, Chandler was fighting for f*cking Bellator, right? Now Chandler can just sit around and take his time and wait for Conor however long it takes, so these guys are all in good positions where they can wait for the right time, the right fight.”
White was not 100 percent committal that Chandler will get the McGregor fight, either. He said “we’ll see” and it’s all about “the timing of when it goes down,” but he did make it clear he’s compelled by the matchup.
“When you actually think about the fight – Chandler vs. Conor is a fun fight,” White said. “A fun f*cking fight.”
The constant stream of delays have led some to question whether McGregor will actually ever return to UFC competition. White squashed any of those concerns, though, and and despite not offering any specifics, offered a guarantee that it will come to fruition in 2024.
“Yes, 100 percent,” White said. “(McGregor) fights next year.”