By Dane McGuire

The marquee coaches bout that is the basis for The Ultimate Fighter season between Michael Chandler and mega star Conor McGregor is still planned despite having no announced fight date.

McGregor recently missed the deadline to re-enter the USADA testing pool but UFC President Dana White isn’t overly concerned. McGregor’s team was contacted in May about re-entering but has not been in the pool since breaking his leg in a 2021 TKO loss to Dustin Porier.

“He’s not [back in the USADA testing pool],” White said. “100 percent [there’s a chance Conor McGregor fights this year].”

Chandler offered his initial reaction in a video posted to Twitter in late June.

“Alright guys, you guys have all seen the news: Conor’s not in USADA,” Chandler said. “One hundred and seventy-nine days left until December 16, which is supposed to be the last pay-per-view of the year. And comically, USADA shows up at my door today to add insult to injury. Where you at, boy?”

Missing the deadline means McGregor is officially unable to fight in 2023 but things are still unfolding.

“We’ll see how that plays out,” White said. “They’re saying that now, but who knows. I don’t talk about s*** until s*** happens. To sit here and think hypothetically how a million different things could happen, no idea. I’m focused on what’s happening this Saturday, and then next Saturday. UFC 300 isn’t even in my mind right now.

“The Conor thing, who the hell knows how that’s going to play out – who cares what USADA says, we’ll see what happens when it happens so I don’t know.”

As of this writing, USADA has not provided an update on the situation. Despite missing the deadline, McGregor provided his own update in a July 4 tweet. “I look forward to my upcoming fight. I am well in preparation.”

As far as the current TUF season goes, Chandler and company have thus far gotten the better of the McGregor camp, taking home wins in each of the six episodes that have aired so far.

Chandler said in a June 28 report from Yahoo Sports:

“Their timeline is now. ‘I want my answers yesterday.’ I’m with everybody else, of course, but just let the process play out. Just know that Michael Chandler steps in the cage against Conor McGregor, we put on an electrifying event, and I separate him from his consciousness in the second round.

“If there’s one thing I know about Conor: He cares about his public persona, he cares about how people see him, he cares about where he is now and what he has become to the fans. [If you’re not coming back], you don’t do a documentary saying you’re coming back; you don’t tell everybody it’s the greatest comeback in combat-sports history; you’re not out there promoting yourself and saying, ‘This is my game forever, you’ll do what you’re told;’ and calling yourself the pound-for-pound king.

“Conor’s coming back. There’s one guy he’s fighting: His name’s Michael Chandler, he’s from High Ridge, Missouri. We are gonna put butts in seats, it’s gonna be an electrifying performance, but I knock out Conor and then maybe he retires after that – we’ll see.”