Conor McGregor’s UFC return may be delayed until summer, says coach John Kavanagh

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Conor McGregor’s UFC return is likelier to take place in summer than April, according to the former champion’s coach.

McGregor has not competed since July 2021, when he suffered a broken leg in his second straight loss to Dustin Poirier, but it was announced in February that the Irishman would return against Michael Chandler sometime in 2023.

A tense saga between the UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency has seen that return delayed, however, with UFC 300 in April looking like the probable date of McGregor’s comeback. Until now, that is.

“We were hoping for April. That was the hope, that was what we were told,” McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh said on The MMA Hour on Monday (13 November).

“And now it seems to be the summertime. I don’t know [why]. That’s literally what we were having a bit of a back and forth [about] today.”

Kavanagh also opened up on the effect that McGregor’s absence has had on the 35-year-old’s mental health, saying: “Well, I was [worried about that], too, I’m not going to lie. But hearing him today, he’s out there finding this great group of training partners — at least he’s doing that.

“Hey, it’s not quite the same as getting in to compete in front of a large crowd, but at least he’s getting training in, and that’s so important. We heard Volk [featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski] talk about that: ‘Keep me busy,’ and all that. So, I love to hear that he’s training hard with these guys.

“But look, and this is what I was saying to him as well: Yeah, okay, it’s a knockback if we’re hearing it was April but now it’s July, but it’s not the end of the world.

“It is an extra couple of months. It’s not great, but hey, you’re enjoying your training at the moment. Let’s just keep that going. But the sport, you are around for such a short time as compared to… well, I’m not going to try to make a comparison to other sports or whatever, but like [coaches’] careers, we can do this for decades. For fighters, it is a short time.”

Prior to his injury against Poirier, McGregor was knocked out by the American in January 2021 – as Poirier avenged a knockout loss to McGregor from 2014.

McGregor’s last win came in January 2020, when he stopped Donald Cerrone inside 40 seconds. That victory marked the end of a two-year lay-off, which followed McGregor’s submission loss to then-lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

McGregor previously held the featherweight and lightweight titles simultaneously as the first dual-weight champion in UFC history.

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