The “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “for sure” he would make two UFC appearances this year after being absent from MMA since his July 2021 TKO loss to Dustin Poirier.
McGregor, appearing on the March 15 episode of “The MMA Hour With Ariel Helwani,” also told Helwani that he wants to remain affiliated with the UFC after his contract with the league expires.
“I’ve got two fights left on my contract, and, you know, I hope we can continue,” McGregor, 34, said. “I want to be in the UFC. … My highlight reel is in the UFC!”
McGregor is expected to make his long-anticipated return this year against Michael Chandler after they’ve finished filming “The Ultimate Fighter 31,” but no date has been set yet. “There’s a lot of work to on the Conor fight still,” the UFC’s Dana White said on the March 9 episode of “The Pat McAfee Show.”
Conor McGregor Says He’s ‘Working for Consistency’
Even though a potential bout against Chandler has not been finalized, McGregor intimated to the Helwani that there was plenty of time left in 2023 to squeeze in two fights.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “Yeah, I can see it moving pretty fast when it moves. Gearing up, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and all, but I feel it will move fast. There’s no issue why it wouldn’t move fast. So I assume late summer, maybe a little bit later, depending. I would like that. And then, of course, that’s still half the year left.”
Since breaking his leg in the first round against Poirier at UFC 264, McGregor has made news more for his run-ins with the law than for his fighting. In September 2021, he scuffled with the rapper Machine Gun Kelly in Brooklyn. A month later, after a fight at a night club in Rome, he was charged with assault. And in January 2023, he was sued by a woman who said he assaulted her in Spain in July 2022. In February, the suit was dropped.
Now, McGregor said, he is looking to move on from the scandals.
“I wish for consistency, I’m working for consistency,” McGregor said. “Like I’ve said before, I’ve had this on-and-off thing going on for a couple of years and it’s been frustrating, be it for different reasons. But I’d like to just get past that and get into this consistency. I feel like I can and I’m excited for it.”
However, according to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, McGregor is not in any shape to fight Chandler.
“I don’t think Conor wants to fight with [Chandler] because he’s drinking too much, smoking all day and he just can’t,” Makhachev said on the March 14 episode of “Weighing In.”
Conor McGregor on His Motivation While Injured
McGregor told Helwani he was “ready to go” after a 20-month layoff filled with incidents that distracted from his recovery and training.
“For sure, it is tough,” said McGregor, who hasn’t won a bout since January 2020, against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. “But, you know, when you get yourself in such a great spot physically and mentally — and in incredible condition — and something happens, it’s tough. But tough times make good times, so I took it on the chin, I stayed focused, I stayed on my work, and now I’m back. I’m ready to go.”
Helwani quoted boxing Hall of Famer Marvin Hagler, saying, “It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5 a.m. when you’re sleeping in silk pajamas.”
To which McGregor replied: “I’ve got the satin sheets. I’ve got the silk sheets. I’ve got the f****** Egyptian cotton duvets, pillows. I’ve got everything.”
When Helwani countered by asking why McGregor, who turns 35 in July, wants to continue fighting, McGregor said he was “addicted.”
“Competition, man! Competition. It’s the best buzz ever. Why would you not want to do it?” McGregor said. “How would you not want to make this walk and experience this whole thing, you know? It’s highly addictive, and I’m highly addicted. So that’s it.”