Conor McGregor is on his way back to the Octagon, but before he pulls on the four-ounce gloves and makes his walk to the cage, he’ll play a starring role in the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter.
McGregor will coach against former Bellator lightweight champion and current UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler, with the pair set to face off against each other in a blockbuster pay-per-view superfight later in the year.
The development was announced online by UFC president Dana White in a social media video, as he confirmed the two fighters as rival coaches, as well as their fight at the end of the season.
“We just confirmed the coaches for Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter. Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler will go head to head as coaches of The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Chandler,” said White.
“This season premieres Tuesday, May 30, and runs through Tuesday, August 15 on ESPN the network, and ESPN+. Then, at the end of the season, McGregor and Chandler will fight, live on ESPN+ pay-per-view. I do not have a date and location for that, but we will announce it soon.
“It’s early in the year, but we have nothing but badass events lined up. I’m pumped, so what you need to do is plan which ones you want to go to, and I’ll see you at the fights.”
The news marks the return of McGregor following his recovery from a broken leg sustained in his loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 264. The former featherweight and lightweight champion has lost three of his last four UFC fights since capturing two-division glory by winning the lightweight title at UFC 205 back in 2016.
He’ll look to bounce back with victory over Chandler, who has been must-see TV ever since his move from Bellator to the UFC in 2021. Like McGregor, he has lost three of his last four but, also similar to the Irishman, his bouts have captured the imagination of fight fans as he has faced some of the world’s best in the UFC’s 155-pound division.
Though not officially announced, it seems the meeting between the pair will take place at 170 pounds, with Chandler telling ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the plan is for the pair to face off at welterweight.
“I’m excited to show up and put my best foot forward and then fight Conor later this year. Oh, at 170,” he said.
“You know, I haven’t exactly talked to the UFC about that, but obviously I know that’s what Connor wants. And I am definitely down to fight 170, so let’s do that.”
Details of their upcoming bout will follow in due course, with many expecting the pair to face off in September, when the UFC traditionally hosts a pay-per-view event in Las Vegas.