Conor McGregor’s longtime coach, John Kavanagh of SBG Ireland, has officially announced that the Irishman’s hopeful UFC return to the Octagon is in July 2024, contingent on his health, which aligns with the timeline of long-awaited opponent Michael Chandler.
During an episode of Ariel Helwani’s “The MMA Hour” on YouTube, Kavanaugh made an appearance following the conclusion of UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The Irish coach acknowledged the frustration that McGregor and his team have waiting on the sidelines.
He questioned the UFC’s strategy and speculated that they may be holding McGregor back for International Fight Week, usually in July. He also suggested that the UFC could have delayed McGregor’s return because they believed that UFC 300 in April would already be a significant event without McGregor’s presence on the pay-per-view.
However, he said the former UFC double champion would not fight on that card. “We were hoping for April. That was the hope,” said Kavanagh.
“That was what we were told. And then now it seems to be the summertime. Okay, well, do we really need him for UFC 300? That is going to be such a massive event. So, is he holding back for Fight Week? International Fight Week? I don’t really know.”
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It has been over two years since McGregor last stepped inside the octagon for a fight. His previous appearance was against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, which resulted in a broken tibia, requiring extensive rehabilitation. Since then, analysts, fighters, and fans have speculated about the possibility of McGregor’s return to the cage to fight Michael Chandler.
Audie Attar, who has been McGregor’s agent since 2013, hinted at a potential return in April or the first and second quarters of the year. However, no dates for a return have been stamped officially.
“Being able to not only get past that hurdle [of injury] and start to really ramp up training, and then has his eyes set on his return into the octagon in 2024, is exciting. I would expect him to fight, [and we] don’t have a set date yet, but sometime, let’s call it April or Q1, Q2 phase as well.”
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The UFC originally planned for Chandler and McGregor to be opposing coaches in the 31st season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and scheduled a fight in 2023. McGregor failed to re-enter the USADA testing pool, which made that timeframe impossible as fighters must return two negative tests and test clean for six months before fighting.
It has not been officially announced when the Chandler-McGregor fight will take place. McGregor has trash-talked Chandler on social media as they await an official date by saying that the fight will happen only on his terms.
Chandler has stated that he will be patient and wait for the fight. He considers the opportunity to fight McGregor the most profitable payday of his career. He also highlighted the importance of having several sources of income and not relying solely on the McGregor fight for financial stability.
“At this point, by deductive reasoning, by process of elimination, there’s a main event in December, there’s a main event in November, we’re not going to not be a main event, so that pushes it into 2024,” said Chandler in an interview.
“I’m ready to fight in January, February, March, April, May, whatever. We’ll see. Obviously, it makes a lot of sense that there’s a very historic card coming up with the UFC. I haven’t been told that’s when it’s going to be, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s when it is. And if it is, I’ve got more and more time to prepare. I’ve never had this much time to prepare for one certain guy, one certain opponent. Me and my team, we’re going to put together a game plan and knock this dude out in the first round or two.”
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