MMA: McGregor to make UFC return against Chandler, as coach then fighter

Conor McGregor is carried off on a stretcher after breaking his left leg against Dustin Poirier during UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada in July 2021. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

LAS VEGAS – Former UFC champion Conor McGregor will compete against lightweight Michael Chandler as coaches in the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter” – then square off against him in the Irishman’s return to the promotion.

Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White said in a video posted to social media on Saturday that the date and place of the bout would be announced later. The McGregor-Chandler fight will be a pay-per-view event on ESPN+, he said.

“The Ultimate Fighter”, heading into its 31st season, will begin on May 30 and end on Aug 15. This is McGregor’s second appearance as coach of TUF, previously taking a turn in 2015.

McGregor, a former lightweight and featherweight champion, has a 22-6 career record. He last fought on July 10, 2021, in a rematch against Dustin Poirier and broke his left leg.

The 34-year-old has won just one of his past four bouts, beating Donald Cerrone in a first-round knockout on Jan 18, 2020. He lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov by submission on Oct 6, 2018, and to Poirier on Jan 23, 2021.

In late January, news broke that McGregor was being probed in Ireland and Spain over assault claims made by a woman who told police that he “would have killed me” if she had not jumped from his yacht last July.

The unidentified woman claims the Irishman kicked her in the midsection and punched her on his yacht after partying at Ocean Beach Club in Ibiza on July 16 for McGregor’s 34th birthday.

She jumped from the yacht, near the island of Formentera, and was eventually picked up by a Red Cross boat, according to the Majorca Daily Bulletin.

He has been in trouble with the law on numerous occasions but has not suffered any major consequences.

The fighter was charged with six offences in April 2022 in his native Ireland stemming from an arrest for dangerous driving.

He has also been accused of sexual assault as well as assaulting a man in Dublin.

He was arrested in Miami (2019) for swiping and damaging a fan’s phone and held in 2018 for throwing a metal dolly through the window of a bus ahead of UFC 223.

Meanwhile, Chandler (23-8) won three Bellator lightweight championships before moving to UFC in 2021. He has won just two of his five UFC fights.

The American lost to Poirier last November, to Justin Gaethje the previous November and to Charles Oliveira in May 2021. He defeated Dan Hooker in his UFC debut in January 2021 and Tony Ferguson in May 2022.

The 36-year-old has long campaigned for a fight against McGregor, previously saying: “If Hunter Campbell and Dana White have a momentary lapse in judgment... I’ve got one dude on my mind.

“Conor McGregor, you’ve got to come back and fight somebody. I am the most entertaining lightweight on the planet.

“I want you at your biggest, I want you at your baddest and I want you at your best. You and me at 170 (lbs) this summer, this fall, this winter.” REUTERS

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