UFC legend Chael Sonnen has defended Conor McGregor's new bulked-up physique, insisting it is just "bloating" from water retention.
McGregor has been out of action since last July after breaking his leg but has been showing off a new 190lb frame following his return to training. His comeback fight is expected to now be delayed until 2023 as he continues to make his return to fitness, which has also been confirmed by the fact he is not currently enrolled in the USADA drug testing pool.
UFC president Dana White then suggested McGregor cannot enter the octagon for at least another six months with fighters required to be in the programme for at least that length of time before competing. However UFC legend Chael Sonnen has dismissed any wrongdoing and believes his inactivity is responsible for his increase in weight.
“Conor comes out and he looks big," Sonnen said when assessing McGregor's new muscly build in his latest YouTube video. "Then it gets revealed that he’s not in the USADA testing pool. Two plus two does not equal four, not if that’s your two. It’s just not that way. Conor did not look overly strong, by the way.
"That’s not what you saw in those pictures. You saw a guy who was bloated. Why would he be bloated? Well, he’s bloated because he’s not sweating out six pounds a day like his body is used to doing and had done every day for the last decade. So he’s retained a lot of water weight.
"‘Ah, no, Chael, look closer, he’s ripped up,’ Conor’s always been ripped up! Conor’s always been blessed with good DNA and a great big, strong body, whether it was at 145 pounds, 153 against Floyd, 155 or 170 pounds against Cowboy Cerrone. He’s always looked that way.”
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McGregor has showed off a new muscly frame while keeping fans updated on his fitness throughout his recovery, and has frequently insisted he will be returning to the UFC. After bulking to 190lb, the Irishman has confirmed he will instead return at 170lb where his last win came against Donald Cerrone in 2020.
The UFC superstar's coach John Kavanagh has revealed the additional weight came from McGregor having only been able to lift weights to avoid using his broken leg. “You know, Conor is a very hard trainer and he’s not going to go to the gym and mess around,” Kavanagh told Fox Sports.
"The only thing he could go is lift weights. So guess what? He lifted all the weights. The bone is well healed. As he likes to say now, he has a titanium shin for kicking people in the head. When we start the fitness training, the excess fat and the excess weight will burn off just from the amount of calories you burn doing this sport.”