Why Conor McGregor’s comeback to the UFC Octagon is unlikely to occur anytime soon

McGregor has been putting off joining the USADA testing pool while dealing with a number of problems not related to sport.

Rarely do fight fans excitedly anticipate the return of a boxer who has a 1-3 record, three stoppage defeats, and one victory that occurred more than three years ago. But given that Conor McGregor, the biggest name in mixed martial arts, has been teased about returning but has remained mysterious, that is exactly where fans stand with him.

after it was revealed that McGregor would be one of the coaches for the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” it appeared that he would make his first appearance since losing by TKO after his leg broke during his July 2021 trilogy with Dustin Poirier. As is customary for the show, a brawl with the opposition coach, Michael Chandler, was predicted to occur after the season.

The bout with Chandler has yet to take place, and it now appears that it never will because McGregor has still not returned to the USADA testing pool. Before they may compete, a fighter must have spent at least six months in the USADA testing pool. McGregor hasn’t been put to the test, even if he has used the pool. If this indicates that he is not enrolled, it indicates that he won’t be available to compete in 2023.

McGregor has previously made it known that he thought he would be granted a waiver that would allow him to break the rules by returning with only two clean tests.

On The MMA Hour in March, McGregor declared, “I’m not rushing anything.” Although there are obstacles, we are in continual contact, and after an interview and a meeting, everything will be official. However, they had stated that I would only need two clean tests before leaving, so I believe it won’t be long.

This echoed McGregor’s tweet from November, “I am clear for testing in February.” I’ll finish my two USADA tests, and a fight is scheduled.

In both instances, USADA rejected the notion that McGregor should be granted an exemption, including in a statement from March.

The statement added, “The UFC rules are clear that an athlete must make themselves available for testing six months prior to returning to competition, in addition to two negative tests.” “This is a fair way to ensure that an athlete does not take unfair advantage of their retirement status by using illegal substances while they are retired, which would increase their performance unjustly if they ever decide to return to competition. Our position, which we have made clear, is that Conor should be in the testing pool for the full six-month period, even though the rules allow the UFC to make an exception to the rule in exceptional circumstances, when the strict application of the rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete.

The UFC can, in the end, offer an exemption, but it would probably not be well accepted. It wouldn’t be unusual in any way. Brock Lesnar received a waiver from the UFC for UFC 200, which allowed him to compete against Mark Hunt after a five-year layoff and circumvent the then-four-month testing pool requirement. Lesnar failed two drug tests conducted in the vicinity of the competition, and his victory was declared void.

Ultimately, McGregor — who appears to have added a large amount of muscle since his previous fight — may be kept out of the ring for reasons other than simply complying with the drug testing regulations.

Marvin Hagler, a boxing champion, once said, “It’s hard to get out of bed to do roadwork at five in the morning when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas.”

When asked about the future of Conor McGregor’s return at a Fight Night post-fight news conference earlier in June, UFC president Dana White seems to imply that the phrase might apply to the McGregor of 2023.

White stated, “First of all, Conor called me a couple of days ago and liked The Ultimate Fighter, and he mentioned how glad he was to be a part of it. “I believe that coming here, along with the surroundings and everything else, made him feel the want to fight once more. One thing you guys need to realize is that this kid is quite wealthy. It now resembles Khabib. These people have tons of money, so it’s difficult to draw them back in and motivate them to engage in combat.

Financial discrepancies between what McGregor wants and what the UFC is prepared to offer may potentially be the cause of McGregor’s return’s delays.

Due to television rights, pay-per-view sales, and live gate receipts, the UFC continues to make huge profits year after year despite maintaining a low percentage of revenue going to the competitors.

McGregor is a major celebrity. However, the UFC does not rely heavily on individual stars to generate revenue. McGregor undoubtedly asks for a high fee and wouldn’t think twice about asking for more than what is stipulated in any existing contract.

It’s possible that the UFC and its parent company Endeavor, which is in the process of buying WWE, won’t agree to McGregor’s demands. This might be even more true in light of the fact that since winning the two-division title in 2016, McGregor has been dogged by legal issues, suffered a boxing loss to Floyd Mayweather, and been stopped by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier (twice). Since his victorious victory over Eddie Alvarez, McGregor has only won once, defeating Donald Cerrone in January 2020. Cerrone went seven fights without a victory before he decided to retire.

There is no denying that McGregor is a superstar. But despite being a celebrity, he hasn’t recently shown he can compete at the highest level. Given the caliber of McGregor’s most recent performances and the UFC’s capacity to simply earn money by maintaining the status quo, the asking price might be too much.

Regardless of the cause, it appears that McGregor’s return to the Octagon is considerably farther away now than it seemed a few months ago.

Fans in need of a McGregor fix might have to make do with his appearances on The Ultimate Fighter, where his team is currently 0-5 and he has drawn a lot of criticism online for not appearing to have done much genuine “coaching.”