Dana White casts doubt on Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon: ‘It’s hard to reel these guys back in’

Conor McGregor

Dana White is not concerning himself with the lack of movement on the highly anticipated clash between Conor McGregor and ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler.

In February, the UFC revealed that McGregor and Chandler would appear as opposing coaches on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter ahead of their inevitable clash inside the Octagon. Fast forward four months later, fans have glimpsed the first episode of TUF featuring the two former world champions, but there have been zero updates regarding when the two men will actually strap on the four-ounce gloves themselves.

Speaking to members of the medial following Saturday’s UFC Vegas 74 event at The APEX, White spoke of the difficulties in trying to put fights together week after week.

“That’s the business we’re in. Anything is possible in this business. We were just talking about PFL and what happened to those guys. Anything is possible,” White said during the post-fight press conference. “You don’t know. And you guys don’t know this much of what goes on behind the scenes and how hard it is to put all these fights together and when you look at what Sean [Shelby] and Mick [Maynard] have done this last week to keep some of these guys in the fight, like Jim Miller. Bringing savages from Tajikistan on short notice. It’s a rough business to keep your fight cards together and pull this stuff off.”

Speaking about Conor McGregor specifically, White confirmed that the Irishman has seemingly had his desire to fight reignited in conjunction with the first episode of TUF 31 airing, but admits that dragging a fighter with an unlimited supply of cash back into the Octagon is a very tough task.

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“First of all, Conor called me the other day and loved the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter and saying how happy he was that he was a part of it. And I think being here in the environment and everything else, he felt it again and felt like he wants to get back and fight,” White continued. “One thing you have to understand is, this kid has so much money. It’s like Khabib now. This guy’s got sh*tloads of money and it’s hard to reel these guys back in and get them fired up and ready to fight.”

Dana White Strives to Create the Next Conor McGregor, Not Drag the Old One Back Kicking and Screaming

As far as his concerns about never being able to reel Conor McGregor back into the Octagon, the UFC President made it clear that he has no concerns, noting that this is simply the nature of the beast. Fighters come and go and that is not exclusive to mixed martial arts. Every sport sees athletes come in, make millions of dollars, and then retire.

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White reiterated that his job is not to drag established champions back inside the cage. It’s to develop the next generation of money-makers.

“I never get concerned. We have a massive roster of people that want to come in and people that are ready to fight. People that want to be Conor McGregor and be at that level. It’s like for the last 20 years everybody said, ‘Oh my god, what are you guys going to do when Chuck Liddell retires? You guys are f*cked. My god, GSP, Anderson Silva. This and that.’

“This is a professional sport. People come in here, achieve great things, and they retire. You can never worry about that type of stuff. It is what it is. It’s part of the game. It’s my job and my team’s job to find new talent and build them and take them to that level.

Conor McGregor recently confirmed that he had submitted paperwork announcing his re-entry into the USADA testing pool for a required six months of screening. With that timeline in mind, the earliest possible date for his return against Michael Chandler would be December 2023. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

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