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Conor McGregor says Michael Chandler still ‘has to be’ opponent for UFC return: ‘Sit down and wait and shut your mouth’

Conor McGregor still intends to finish what he started with Michael Chandler.

The former two-division UFC champion confirmed on Thursday that Chandler is still McGregor’s target opponent for his Octagon return despite a stumbled start to their fight.

“Yes, it has to be,” McGregor told Fight with all your strength. “You have to. Chandler, sit down and wait and shut your mouth, okay? Mac will be here soon.”

McGregor and Chandler coach each other this year ultimate warrior 31, Chandler’s Kurt Hollobo and McGregor’s teammate Brad Katona emerged as the show’s lightweight and bantamweight winners, respectively. McGregor and Chandler were originally expected to have their own match sometime in late 2023, but that matchup never materialized.

When asked about a target date of 2023, McGregor remained hopeful – even though it seems unlikely at the moment.

“On the road, I’m still hopeful for December,” he said of the showdown with Chandler.

The UFC recently finalized its year-end schedule, which will feature five title fights over the final three pay-per-view events of 2023, so a lucrative fight like McGregor’s return is unlikely to get burned on a card already packed with big fights.

UFC executive Dana White said the same thing last week when asked about McGregor’s fight with Chandler and the possibility of a 2023 date.

“I know nothing about these two right now. I’ve been saying for a while that Connor is going to be fighting next year.” White told reporters in Las Vegas. “Obviously, if Chandler gets restless, then we’ll figure something out. I think Chandler has a lot of money, he hangs out with his family, and when the time comes for Conor to play, I’m sure that’s what he wants to do. He wants the game. I’m not speaking for him, I’m just speaking my hypothesis.”

McGregor has not competed since breaking his leg in a July 2021 loss to Dustin Poirier, and this was McGregor’s second consecutive stoppage loss at the hands of Poirier. The 35-year-old Irishman has won just one fight since 2016 and is 1-3 in his past four fights. Still, he’s still the biggest star in MMA, and he continues to promise a return in the UFC is imminent.

McGregor also expressed his dissatisfaction with the performance of his long-time rival Nate Diaz in Diaz’s recent professional boxing debut against Jake Paul.

“It wasn’t good,” McGregor said of Diaz’s decision loss to Paul. “Not great. I’d like to see him come back to MMA. I owe him a fight. I owe Nate a fight, so I have to fulfill that obligation. He gave me a rematch and I beat him , I do owe him the trilogy.”

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