Michael Chandler is 100% confident that on June 29, he will be standing across from Irish megastar Conor McGregor inside the Octagon.
After a year of speculation, the two-division UFC champion finally revealed that he will be returning in 2024 to headline the promotion’s International Fight Week in Las Vegas. Meeting McGregor inside the cage will be former Bellator MMA world champion and lightweight fan favorite, Michael Chandler, who recently sat down with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto to discuss the highly anticipated clash.
Thus far, the UFC has not come out and confirmed McGregor’s return at UFC 302 later this year, leading some to suspect that it’s just another instance of the Irishman hyping up fans for something that may never happen. However, Chandler attempted to quell some of those concerns.
“I have 100% confidence that I’m fighting Conor McGregor on June 29,” Chandler said. “With that being said, whether it’s Conor or anybody, it’s a crazy sport. Injuries happen. Sicknesses happen. The fight isn’t actually happening until both of us are in the cage and Bruce Buffer starts announcing us, right?
“With Conor, one thing I will give him credit for. Go back his entire career. When he says he’s going to be at a fight, has he ever pulled out of a fight? Has the opponent ever switched on his accord? It’s always been someone else. People can say what they want about Conor and I have no problem giving the man his props. He does what he says he’s going to do when it comes to who he’s fighting, where he’s fighting, and when he’s fighting.”
Chandler added that he has been in contact with the UFC and, while the promotion has made nothing public just yet, he’s already preparing to begin his fight camp in Florida.
“It’s never 100% officially confirmed until we actually step into the Octagon, but before that when the UFC actually comes out with it, but obviously my team has been in touch with the UFC and June 29 is what I’m preparing for. I’m leaving my family here in the next couple weeks to head down to Florida to get into fight camp. The fight camp that has been looming now for a year. On June 29, we take this dude’s head off.”
Michael Chandler Addresses McGregor’s Reveal That Their Bout Will Take Place at Middleweight
Conor McGregor dropped the bombshell announcement on New Year’s Day after building some anticipation for the reveal in the days leading up to the holiday. Asked if he knew what ‘Mystic Mac’ was going to announce, Chandler admitted that he was pretty much in the dark, suspecting it could be just another “troll job” by MMA’s biggest superstar.
“I had an idea, but you never quite know. Is it going to be another troll job? Is it going to be another Conor, the center of attention deal? Is it going to be silence? What tactic is he going to use to keep everybody on the edge of their seats? Not just me, he’s done a lot of things over the last year or so that was directly intended for me to hear and directly intended for my team to hear that everybody ran with.
“I have a way of doing things. Keeping quiet is one of them. Not letting things bother me is one of them. We spent five weeks together. He couldn’t really get under my skin. I think he realizes that so he’s trying more and more to do all kinds of things over the last year. You never quite know what you’re going to get with this dude, but I know what I’m going to get June 29, and that’s a W.”
Perhaps the biggest piece of news, aside from the date of McGregor’s return, was the reveal that his bout with Michael Chandler will go down at 185 pounds.
Initially, the contest was expected to take place at welterweight where McGregor had previously fought Nate Diaz and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, but Chandler had a pretty good explanation for why McGregor likely decided to bump it up another weight class.
“I’m 50-50 on it. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. I spent five weeks around Conor. I don’t care whether he wants to fight at 185, 170, 205, or whatever. You got to remember, he doesn’t want to fight 155 because he wants everybody to believe that he’s bigger than he is. In his mind, he can’t fight at 170 because I called him out at 170, therefore he’s not doing as I told him. So he had to say 185. Just like he did in the intro scene of The Ultimate Fighter, telling me it was going to be at 185.
“I don’t give a rip about what the weight is. I’m able to fluctuate my weight. I don’t need to bulk up to make 185. It would be easy and fun to make. The UFC and Conor can figure that out and then let me know what they’re thinking. I can have an opinion on it, but as of right now, I could care less about the weight. The date and the opponent is all that matters.”
Watch the full interview below: