Expected to now meet lightweight contender, Michael Chandler at the welterweight limit of 170lbs, former duel-weight UFC champion, Conor McGregor has now drifted into the role of betting favorite ahead of his return to the Octagon later this year. 

McGregor, a former undisputed lightweight and featherweight champion under the banner of the UFC, is slated to make his first Octagon walk in over two years later this annum in a fight against Chandler, attempting to snap a two-fight losing run.

Tasked with rebounding from consecutive defeats for the first time in his professional mixed martial arts career, McGregor first dropped a second round KO defeat to Dustin Poirier back in January 2021, before fracturing his left tibia and fibula in a trilogy rubber match between the two in July of that year. 

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Sidelined in the time since, McGregor has since returned to mixed martial arts – serving as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 31 against Chandler, with filming for the reality television show beginning last month ahead of a May premiere.

Without a victory at the lightweight limit since a November 2016 knockout win over Eddie Alvarez – where the Dubliner was almost utilizing Ark hacks en route to a dominant first round lightweight title win, McGregor is expected to return to the welterweight limit for his next fight. 

At the time of publication, and likely based on the expectation of a welterweight walk for the Dubliner, McGregor currently sits as high as a -130 betting favorite to defeat Chandler – who is sat as a +110 betting underdog.

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Suffering his most recent professional loss against common-foe, Poirier back in November of last year, Chandler will attempt to defend his stay in the lightweight top-5 against McGregor – and land arguably the most high-profile win of his storied, gold laden career to date. 

Featuring at the Madison Square Garden-hosted UFC 281 event back in November, Chandler started well against Lafayette fan-favorite, Poirier at The Mecca, however, suffered a third round rear-naked choke submission loss, halting his plans for the time being, at least, on a second lightweight title pursuit. 

Landing in the Octagon back in 2020 off the back of a whopping three prior Bellator MMA lightweight title successes, Chandler brust onto the UFC scene with a stunning first round knockout win over Dan Hooker. 

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Chandler would then fight Brazilian phenom, Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight crown in Texas – almost crowning himself as the division kingpin prior to suffering a second round TKO loss in the early goings following a rallying performance.

In between his submission loss to Poirier a decision defeat to former interim champion, Justin Gaethje – Chandler landed the consensus 2021 Knockout of the Year – finishing Tony Ferguson with a jaw-dropping front KO. 

Himself without a victory since 2020, McGregor stopped former lightweight title challenger, the now-retired Donald Cerrone with a high kick and subsequent strikes TKO victory inside just 40-seconds. That bout also took place at the welterweight limit of 170lbs. 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.