When Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon later this year, he will reportedly do so as a welterweight for the first time since 2020.

UFC president Dana White recently confirmed that ‘The Notorious’ will make his long-awaited return to competition in 2023, squaring off with No. 5 ranked lightweight contender ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler. Before they throw hands in the cage, the pair will act as dueling head coaches on season 31 of the promotion’s long-running reality series, The Ultimate Fighter.

During an appearance on The MMA Ringer Show with Chuck Mindenhall and Petesy Carroll, renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported that the bout will be contested at 170 pounds. Conor McGregor, a former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, has competed as a welterweight once before in a bout with Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. The 40-second victory over ‘Cowboy’ represents McGregor’s only win inside the Octagon dating back to 2016. For Chandler, it will be his first time competing in the heavier weight class since signing with the promotion in 2020.

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“The Notorious One is coming back, first on TUF,” Helwani said. “It’s going to begin airing here in the United States on ESPN television. So ESPN linear and ESPN+ May 30 to August 15 and then the plan is they will fight in the third quarter. Last I heard September. We did a quick Twitter Spaces in the morning, just to try it out. No one get crazy, but we were talking about the weight. I’ve confirmed it’s 170. That’s an interesting little wrinkle there, especially for Chandler.”

Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler Are Desperately Seeking a Win Inside the Octagon

Conor McGregor has been out of action since suffering a devastating injury, fracturing his left tibia and fibula, in the first round of a trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264. The Irishman has dropped three of his last four bouts inside the Octagon.

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Chandler is in a similar boat, losing three of his last four and going 2-3 overall since making his UFC debut. Chandler burst into the promotion with a first-round knockout of Dan Hooker at UFC 257 but has since lost to the lightweight division’s elite including Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje, and Dustin Poirier.

USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) recently confirmed that Conor McGregor is yet to re-enter the testing pool to qualify for competition. Once enrolled, ‘The Notorious’ will be required to undergo six months of testing and provide at least two negative tests in order to compete this fall.

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Craig Pekios is a freelance writer born and raised in Bettendorf, IA. Joining LowKick MMA in May 2022, Craig has more than 2,500 articles published that focus on the world of mixed martial arts and boxing, including news, event previews, results, analysis, and op-eds. Aside from working with LowKick MMA, Craig has contributed to news outlets Overtime Heroics, Sportskeeda, and MiddleEasy.