John Ergon Golpe ’24
On Thursday, October 27th, Conor McGregor, known more popularly in the MMA community as “The Notorious,” announced in an Instagram livestream his plans to return to the UFC by early 2023. However, there are still some hurdles he must face before he can get back in the Octagon.
Following a serious injury at UFC 264, last year, in which McGregor fractured his leg while fighting against Dustin Poirier, the former featherweight and light-weight champion took a year-long competing hiatus to heal. It was during this period of recovery that he managed to completely transform his body despite his injury, bulking up considerably in preparation for his comeback.
There has been tremendous backlash towards his new physique; however, many of McGregor’s rivals – particularly one vocal light-weight contender named Justin Gaethje – have accused McGregor of using performance-enhancers. At the UFC 280 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White revealed that McGregor will be required to conduct the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug tests for six months before making his comeback into the ring.
It is a concern that the 34-year-old fighter, who was one of the most tested athletes last year with a yearly record of eleven tests, has not undergone any this year due to his recovery. McGregor has been ambiguous as to when he will return to testing.
Conor McGregor’s comeback may be pushed back nine months due to his commitment to the film industry. Currently in the Dominican Republic, he, along with co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, is in the process of shooting an Amazon remake of the 1989 action-thriller Road House. McGregor has stated that once production for the film has wrapped, he will return to his training regimen: “That will give me a good couple of months to prepare for a UFC match.”
Regarding whom he will fight next, McGregor has been rumoured to have numerous comeback opponents, such as Gaethje, Micheal Chandler, and Charles Oliveira.
“The Notorious” himself has expressed interest in either boldly challenging welterweight champion Kamaru Usman or Islam Makhachev for the light-weight championship title as his first fight post-recovery. However, in an episode of The Fight Card Podcast, boxing icon Mike Tyson and former UFC flyweight and bantam champion Henry Cejudo advised McGregor to compete in some gimme fights, preferably one with UFC veteran Tony Ferguson, to warm him up for more competitive bouts.
Although it is apparent that the UFC fighter who shook the world in his 2013 debut is well on his way to returning to the cage, it is unlikely that he will be making his comeback in the foreseeable future. With scheduling conflicts and performance concerns, expect to see Mystic Mac return late 2023 or early 2024.