For a year and a half since he suffered a leg injury in a fight against Dustin Poirier, UFC fans have been waiting to find out who they would see Conor McGregor fight next.
There has been plenty of speculation about potential opponents in that time, including a time where Charles Oliveira was talking about letting him fight for the belt.
Today fans learned who he will actually take on in his return.
Dana White announced this morning that McGregor will fight Michael Chandler in his return after coaching The Ultimate Fighter.
McGREGOR vs CHANDLER IS CONFIRMED!!@TheNotoriousMMA and @MikeChandlerMMA will officially coach the next season of #TUF31! pic.twitter.com/effjf0Rg2M
— UFC (@ufc) February 4, 2023
The decision to have McGregor coach TUF again after he coached season 22 against Urijah Faber. McGregor hasn’t been in the USADA testing pool, which means he’ll need to reenter the pool for 6 months before he can fight again. Now they’ll be able to put him in the spotlight during that wait.
Once that wait is over, McGregor will be thrown right into a tough matchup.
One of McGregor’s deficiencies throughout his UFC career has been his ground game. He has rarely been matched up with wrestlers during his time with the UFC. The couple of times he has been, he has struggled to defend takedowns.
Even Dustin Poirier was able to land a takedown in each of their two most recent fights.
Michael Chandler is a much better wrestler than Dustin Poirier.
While we didn’t see much of Chandler’s wrestling in his first 4 UFC fights, he turned back to it in his recent fight against Poirier and completed 3 of his 7 attempts.
McGregor also doesn’t have the cardio to take advantage of Chandler’s tendency to fade later in fights.
By the tie McGregor returns, it will have been 2 years since he’s stepped in the cage and almost 5 years since he’s fought a wrestler. He’ll have a tough task in front of him in Michael Chandler when he makes that return.