Why Conor McGregor's Return to the UFC May Not Be as Close as First Thought

conor mcgregor visits
McGregor in Talks to Re-enter Drug Testing PoolRoy Rochlin - Getty Images

Despite suffering back-to-back defeats against Dustin Poirier and a potentially career-ending knee injury, Conor McGregor still has every intention of making a comeback to the UFC's Octagon later in the year, revealing he is in talks with USADA (United States Anti-doping Agency).

During an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, McGregor revealed how he's currently in talks with USADA (United States Anti-doping Agency) about coming out of retirement to compete and re-enter drug pool testing. He went on to say 'I'm not rushing nothing, there's hurdles and whatnot, but we're in constant communication.'

During McGregor's two-year hiatus, it's clear to see he has packed on some serious size, and his bulked up physique has sparked concern in the MMA community, especially after his controversial exit from the USADA testing pool post knee surgery.

In the interview he suggested that USADA's six-month testing period may not apply to him; 'There's an interview scheduled and a meeting happens and then it will be official. But the six months thing, what they had said was two clean tests and off I go, so I assume it won't be too long.'

UFC fighters must have been in the USADA pool for six months and have submitted two negative tests in order to compete. Since his confident remarks, USADA has released an official statement to potentially dash his hopes of skipping any hurdles in the road back to the Octagon:

'While we meet with all athletes who enter or re-enter the testing pool, we do not currently have a meeting set with Conor and, as of today, we have not received notice of his coming out of retirement to compete.'

'The UFC rules are clear that, in addition to two negative tests, an athlete must make themselves available for testing for six months before returning to competition. This is a fair way to ensure an athlete does not use the retirement status to gain an unfair advantage by using prohibited substances during the retirement period, which would enhance their performance unfairly if the ultimately decide to return to competition.

‘While the rules permit the UFC to make an exception to the six-month rule in exceptional circumstances, when the strict application of the rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete, our position, which we have made clear, is that Conor should be in the testing pool for the full six-month period.'

If McGregor enters the testing pool right now, the soonest he will be set to fight is October 2023. The charismatic former UFC double-champion is of course a born entertainer, but whether his fight with fellow lightweight contender Michael Chandler goes ahead any sooner will be left to USADA's eagerly-awaited decision.

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