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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Mike Bohn and Ken Hathaway

Dana White on Conor McGregor’s status vs. Michael Chandler: ‘It’s hard to reel these guys in’

LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White wouldn’t directly address the status of booking Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 45 post-fight press conference.

With McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) having been out of action since July 2021 due to a broken leg, his expected return to the octagon was to be later this year against Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) at the conclusion of “The Ultimate Fighter 31” reality show airing.

The biggest obstacle, however, is McGregor’s requirement to enter the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool and provide two clean drugs tests over six months before returning to the cage. USADA recently stated they expected McGregor’s paperwork in the immediate future, but there’s been no confirmation of his re-entry.

That situation has cast doubt about whether McGregor vs. Chandler will actually come to fruition, and when asked if he’s concerned, White provided an unclear answer.

“I never get concerned,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “We have a massive roster of people that want to come in and people that are ready to fight and 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. Oh my God. GSP. Anderson Silva. This and that.’ This is a professional sport. People come in here, they 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. And it’s my job and my team’s job to find new talent and build them.”

White said he “can’t think like that” when asked if there’s a potential about McGregor vs. Chandler falling through, but he said he’s worked through many challenging issues in his 20-plus year tenure as UFC president, and his team always pushes forward.

When it comes to McGregor specifically, though, White said there’s realistic issues that come with booking a fight with an athlete of his stature.

“First of all, Conor called me a couple days ago and loved the first episode of ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ and saying how happy he was to be a part of it,” White said. “And I think being here and part of the environment and everything else, he felt it again and felt like he wants to get back to fight. The one thing you guys have to understand is this kid has so much money. It’s like Khabib now. These guys got sh*tloads of money and it’s hard to reel these guys in and get them to get in and fight.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 45.

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