It’s official: Conor McGregor will return to action after a nearly three year break to take on Michael Chandler on June 29th. The match-up, a part of the UFC’s big International Fight Week festivities in Las Vegas, Nevada, has been building since McGregor and Chandler coached a season of The Ultimate Fighter together over summer 2023. Now we finally know when it’s going down.
“The Notorious” announced the fight on his social media accounts, and also included an interesting curveball: he claims the bout will take place at middleweight, two weight classes up from where Chandler normally competes. If that’s supposed to bother “Iron Mike,” it hasn’t.
“I always said I wanted you at your biggest, your baddest and your best,” Chandler wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “185 would look good on me.”
I always said I wanted you at your biggest, your baddest and your best. 185 would look good on me.
— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) December 31, 2023
“Any weight is good with me,” he added when speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
McGregor started his UFC career as a featherweight, making his way through the ranks to become undisputed champion in 2015. He then fought Nate Diaz twice at welterweight before dropping to lightweight and snatching the 155 pound belt off Eddie Alvarez in 2016. After losing the title to Khabib Nurmagomedov, he’d move back up to welterweight against Donald Cerrone, and then back down to 155 for his two losses against Dustin Poirier.
During the two and a half years he’s spent out of action rehabbing a horrific leg injury, McGregor has packed on pounds of muscle. Whereas past welterweight bouts were contests against puffed up lightweights, he may now be a legitimate 170 pounder. That gives him the size advantage over Chandler, who has stuck to 155 pounds for over a decade.
Chandler clearly isn’t too bothered by the whole situation. He probably thinks any benefits McGregor gains with size will be negated by a loss in speed. As if there weren’t already a ton of unknowns regarding Conor’s comeback, we now have to wonder how he’ll operate as a … middleweight? Win or lose, it’ll be fascinating to watch when it goes down on June 29th, 2024.