Conor McGregor's Return to the Octagon Delayed as Challenges Mount

Thu Jun,2023
Conor McGregor's Return to the Octagon Delayed as Challenges Mount Boxing

Conor McGregor is facing further delays in his return to the Octagon. He has not stepped inside the ring for almost two years, it is now likely that he will be out for an even longer period, possibly up to three years. The primary reason for this delay is McGregor's failure to register with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), rendering him ineligible to compete for the remainder of 2023.

Under UFC regulations, fighters must be part of the USADA testing pool for a minimum of six months before they can participate in fights. Consequently, the earliest McGregor could potentially face Michael Chandler, whom he appeared with on the reality series "The Ultimate Fighter," would be in January 2024. However, several factors indicate that McGregor's return might be postponed even further.d

Firstly, McGregor's fiancee, Dee Devlin, is currently pregnant with their fourth child. Considering his family commitments, McGregor may not want to engage in intense training during the holiday season. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising if his fight with Chandler is rescheduled for the second or early third quarter of next year.

Additionally, a recent allegation of sexual assault against McGregor adds uncertainty to his future. The accusation stems from an incident captured on video, in which McGregor is seen entering a bathroom with a woman during Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Miami. While McGregor denies the allegations, the outcome of the case could potentially impact his fighting career.

Nevertheless, any bout involving McGregor is bound to be a lucrative event for the UFC, ESPN, and McGregor himself. The UFC, being a thriving money-making machine, can afford to be patient with McGregor, the biggest star in its history. Though the company would undoubtedly prefer to have McGregor fight sooner, its success does not hinge solely on one fighter, even one as valuable as McGregor.

The reasons behind McGregor's failure to reenter the USADA testing pool remain unknown, with only McGregor himself able to address the issue. Notably, McGregor has significantly increased his muscle mass since his leg injury during a fight with Dustin Poirier on July 10, 2021. Although he has showcased glimpses of his training progress on "The Ultimate Fighter" and through social media clips, the true extent of his leg's recovery cannot be accurately assessed.

The considerable changes in McGregor's physique raise speculation about the possible use of performance-enhancing substances, as is often the case when athletes undergo dramatic physical transformations. While steroids are illegal without a prescription, athletes outside of testing regimens rarely face repercussions. In contrast, UFC fighters are subjected to year-round testing, which necessitates careful planning before entering the testing pool.

Ultimately, McGregor's decision to delay reentry into the testing pool and his subsequent return to the Octagon remains a mystery. Various reasons, unrelated to performance-enhancing substances, could account for his choice. However, the allure of a lucrative payday from a fight against Chandler ensures that McGregor will eventually return. Nonetheless, both McGregor and the UFC, as financial powerhouses in their respective fields, are not desperate to expedite the process.