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What is going on with Conor McGregor? ‘Notorious’ hasn’t fought in two-and-a-half years and Dana White says he won’t make his return until autumn… despite the UFC superstar claiming he is desperate for a fight

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 fight displays against Eddie Alvarez in 2016 that he would win just one more fight in the seven years that followed. 

But that is the situation the Irish superstar finds himself in today. McGregor the celebrity continues to grow. McGregor the fighter continues to drift further into the background.

Of course, a horrific injury is largely to blame for this. The 35-year-old’s last bout ended in disaster as he broke his leg in the first round of his trilogy showdown with Dustin Poirier in the summer of 2021.

The gruesome injury was viewed by some as a career-ender but McGregor was quick to assure fans that he would return.

Conor McGregor’s long-awaited comeback has been talk of MMA for a long time 

We’re two-and-a-half years on now and fans still know little about when, or if, this return will actually come.

UFC president Dana White gave an update this week but it wasn’t the news that McGregor’s followers were hoping for.

He announced that the comeback of ‘Notorious’ is being earmarked for autumn this year, a blow for those who had held out faint hope that McGregor might headline the landmark UFC 300 PPV or come back in the summer at the latest. 

McGregor had taken to Instagram to vent his frustration at the lack of movement regarding his return in a clear message to his paymasters earlier in the week, writing ‘get this f*****g date set.’

That is a sentiment that will resonate with many, especially when you consider that filming for season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter took place this time last year.

McGregor and fellow lightweight Michael Chandler were coaches on the reality show, which traditionally culminates with the two coaches facing off in the octagon. 

McGregor has been due to fight Michael Chandler for months since the Ultimate Fighter

McGregor has been due to fight Michael Chandler for months since the Ultimate Fighter 

The 35-year-old is clearly desperate for an announcement on his next fight

The 35-year-old is clearly desperate for an announcement on his next fight 

The series was broadcast in the summer and had been intended to be the perfect hype machine ahead of them facing off towards the end of 2023.

The days ticked by with McGregor not enrolled in USADA’s testing program and it became clear 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 a career-best payday, was clearly willing to wait but the usually active American is still sat twiddling his thumbs.

McGregor, who re-entered the testing pool in October, took plenty of shots at USADA over the situation while also hinting at interest in other opponents instead of Chandler.

Hopes of an earlier return for the Dubliner were ignited when it was announced that the eight-year partnership between the UFC and USADA would come to an end in January of this year, with disagreements over McGregor largely to blame.

McGregor has fully recovered from his leg break and claims to be ready to fight

McGregor has fully recovered from his leg break and claims to be ready to fight 

Speaking in November, McGregor said: ‘April is a lovely run up for me and I’d be happy with that.

‘I’m in a good spot, I’ve been training – I’ve been leaving also. 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 this stars were lining up for the sport’s biggest star to top the historic card.

However, McGregor’s tone soon changed with the former duel-weight champion taking to social media on New Year’s Eve to ‘announce’ a July date. 

‘Ladies and gentlemen, a happy New Year to you all.’ McGregor said in a video posted on X. 

‘I’d like to announce the return date for myself, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor. ‘The greatest comeback of all time will take place in Las Vegas for International Fight Week on June 29 and the opponent, Michael Chandler. And the weight, Mr Chandler, 185lbs.’

Chandler welcomed the message, replying: ‘I always said I wanted you at your biggest, your baddest and your best.’ He said on X. 185 would look good on me.’

Nonetheless, UFC 300 (April 13) continues to draw closer and no main event has been set.

There seems to be little else in the way of options for the UFC to give the show the marquee main event it warrants and McGregor tweeted last month that his presence on the card would ‘seal the deal’. Chandler was once again quick to respond, writing: ‘I accept, see you soon.’

McGregor appears fit and ready to fight, sharing regular 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’m hoping for the fall. [Hopefully] we get it done in the fall.’

80582809 13065029 image a 33 1707484691283 What is going on with Conor McGregor? 'Notorious' hasn't fought in two-and-a-half years and Dana White says he won't make his return until autumn... despite the UFC superstar claiming he is desperate for a fight

80582811 13065029 image a 34 1707484694509 What is going on with Conor McGregor? 'Notorious' hasn't fought in two-and-a-half years and Dana White says he won't make his return until autumn... despite the UFC superstar claiming he is desperate for a fight

This latest sizeable delay has frustrated fans to suggest that McGregor, who isn’t getting any younger, may never actually return. 

It’s no secret that the Irishman has plenty going on outside of fighting. A household name now, he’s made more than enough money to never compete again. 

His Proper Twelve whiskey business has made him hundreds of millions and he will be starring alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in a remake of the American classic action thriller Road House, which will be released on Amazon in March.

The Irishman continues to be making the most of his success and fortune as he waits for a fight

The Irishman continues to be making the most of his success and fortune as he waits for a fight

While he may be training it’s clear the that he is still enjoying himself and the finer things in life. 

The former champion’s lifestyle is a world apart from most fighters and a growing sector of the core fanbase of the UFC will tell you they are losing interest in seeing him seeing him come back.

Nonetheless, that sector still represents a minority of the fanbase. 

There is no doubt a return, should it finally take place, would generate huge business for the UFC. So if he’s ready, what are they waiting for? 

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