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McGregor, Chandler to coach 'TUF 31,' fight at end of season

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

Conor McGregor's highly anticipated return is close to finally happening.

McGregor and Michael Chandler will serve as coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter 31," UFC president Dana White announced Saturday.

After the season, the superstar fighters will square off on a date still to be announced. "TUF 31" premieres May 30 and runs until Aug. 15.

The weight class for the fight wasn't announced, but Chandler told the "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast that the UFC is discussing the matchup taking place at welterweight.

McGregor hasn't stepped into the cage since breaking his leg in a TKO loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021. The former two-division champion is on a two-fight skid - Poirier also knocked him out earlier that year - and is 1-3 in his last four Octagon appearances dating back to 2018.

The Irishman isn't currently in the USADA drug-testing pool and would have to be enrolled for six months - as well as submit two negative tests - before he's eligible to compete, the agency confirmed to TSN's Aaron Bronsteter in a statement. McGregor does not need to be in the testing pool to coach on "TUF."

In 2016, McGregor became the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, knocking out Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt at the promotion's Madison Square Garden debut after capturing the featherweight championship in 2015. He's experienced mixed results in recent years, but the Irishman remains the biggest box-office draw in MMA. He has reportedly headlined the six highest-selling pay-per-view events in UFC history.

Chandler signed with the UFC as one of the biggest free agents in MMA history in 2020 following a lengthy stint in Bellator, where he reigned as lightweight champion on three occasions. He quickly became one of the top and most popular lightweights on the UFC roster.

"Iron" is coming off a loss to Poirier, falling by third-round submission at UFC 281 last November in one of the most entertaining fights of the year. The former UFC title challenger also scored a Knockout of the Year candidate in 2022, finishing Tony Ferguson with a front kick to the face.

Chandler, ranked No. 5 in the 155-pound division, has been talking about fighting McGregor, who's no longer in the UFC standings, for more than a year. He even called out "The Notorious" in a memorable postfight interview after beating Dan Hooker in his first UFC bout in January 2021. Poirier's second-round finish of McGregor headlined that event.

This will be McGregor's second time as a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter." He starred in the 22nd season opposite Urijah Faber in 2015.

McGregor, Chandler to coach 'TUF 31,' fight at end of season
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