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Michael Chandler Expects Conor McGregor’s Skills to Be Depleted by Long Hiatus



Michael Chandler believes Conor McGregor will not be the same fighter he once was on his return to the Octagon this summer.

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McGregor will return to action after a hiatus of almost three years in a welterweight clash against “Iron” in the main event at UFC 303 on June 29 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “Notorious” last fought in a trilogy bout against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021, suffering a technical knockout loss due to a leg break in the first round.

While the Irishman resumed training in early 2022, it wasn’t until October 2023 that he returned to the UFC’s drug testing pool. Although the former UFC double champ wanted to return at UFC 300, it wasn’t until UFC 303 that his return could be made possible. Chandler believes the long inactivity has taken a toll on McGregor’s timing, movement, and reflexes.

“What I need to work on for this fight is continue to be the best version of myself,” Chandler said on The Shawn Ryan Show. “Maybe a little bit more tactical, realizing that I have earned this, realizing that I am the better fighter, I am the tougher fighter and the guy who deserves it more. Whether that be getting in his face, putting him up against the cage, picking him up, putting him down, wilting his spirit a little bit more, taking the wind out of his sails a little bit more. I don’t need to be getting into a firefight with a guy who has got a bigger rifle than me, right? I think I hit harder than he does.

“I think I would venture to say his time out of the cage has lent itself to his timing not being what it used to be, his movement not being what it used to be, his reflexes not being what they used to be," Chandler added. "His being out of the cage now for – it’ll be three years by the time we fight. So, I’m just gonna, from the first exchange, hit him with big punches, make him second guess himself, keep my hands up a little bit more than I have in the past, pick him up, put him down if I want to, choke him if I want to, go out there and get the finish and just absolutely outclass and dominate him. Because I deserve this and I’ve earned this.”

Chandler hasn’t competed since a submission loss against Poirier at UFC 281 in November 2022. The former UFC title contender has since been rallying for the McGregor booking, with the two even starring as rival coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 31” last summer. “Iron” is 2-3 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship with wins over Dan Hooker and Tony Ferguson.
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