Conor McGregor could seek an exemption from the six month drug-testing rule to return to UFC action earlier than stipulated.
McGregor has been out of action since last July when he broke his leg in a second consecutive defeat to Dustin Poirier, but he is eyeing a return to the octagon in 2023. However his plans appeared to derail when UFC president Dana White declared fighters must be enrolled in the USADA random testing pool for six months before competing with the promotion.
Records showed that McGregor was no longer enrolled in the pool when making his recovery from injury, which will leave him a further five months away from any comeback. However UFC legend Matt Brown has suggested he could follow in the footsteps of Brock Lesnar who was granted permission to compete at UFC 200 back in 2016.
“If you have a criticism against that rule then you have to criticize that rule but anybody can do that," Brown said during an episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer podcast when discussing McGregor's planned return . "So fair game to him for that. Having the ranking is questionable and then I heard he’s attempting to get an exemption kind of like Brock Lesnar did when Brock came back for UFC 200.
"I don’t know why the UFC would do that for Conor being that him fighting in March or February versus him fighting in August or September doesn’t really change the bottom line. He’s going to be a draw no matter when he fights. We can all exploit the loophole. Any of us could exploit it. I don’t think most of us make the money he has to afford that much time off, right?
"He has the money, he’s still pretty young. He’s young enough. He doesn’t have to fight again if he doesn’t want to. Most guys, the vast majority of guys, can’t afford to take a year off. Otherwise, I guarantee you, way more people would be doing it. It’s a simple loophole."
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Lesnar was granted an exemption from the rule with it deemed exceptional circumstances for him to return with just a single month of testing, but he later failed two drug tests on the night of his fight and the result was overturned. McGregor has been taking his time with his recovery, and has built an impressive new physique which will likely see him return at 170lb.
News of a delay was concerning for McGregor fans who even questioned if he would return to the UFC again after his absence from the pool was confirmed. However in a recent tweet the Irishman ensured fans he will soon make his bow, writing: "I am clear for testing in February. I will complete my two tests per USADA and we are booking a fight."