The long wait for MMA superstar Conor McGregor’s UFC return could be over in around six months’ time, if his latest social media missive is any guide.

McGregor posted to Instagram to hint that he is in the process of re-entering the USADA testing pool, saying that he’s got the “ball rolling” on a return.

Accompanying a carousel of action shots from a sparring session involving McGregor in boxing gloves and headgear, the Irishman posted, “Find my targets. Hit them. F*ck the consequences. You’re going down. This is fighting. Sparring day with slick @grozdevnikolay. Always a banger of a spar with the slick fella. Submitted my stuff to Novitzky. Ball rolling. See you soon you little light work b*tch.”

The final sentence would appear to be aimed at his mooted opponent and rival coach on the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, Michael Chandler, while his reference to UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky is a strong hint that he’s re-entering the USADA testing pool.

USADA’s rules state that any fighter that has left the testing pool (either via retirement, or due to lengthy injury) would need to re-enter the pool and be in the pool for a period of six months before they are cleared to compete again, but the last few months have been filled with speculation over whether McGregor’s team would attempt to negotiate an exemption. However, it appears that McGregor is following the protocols as he targets a 2024 return.

McGregor has been forced to endure a lengthy time away from the sport after suffering a broken leg in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021. Now back to fighting fitness, it seems that McGregor is turning up the intensity as he prepares for a UFC return.

If McGregor were to re-enter the USADA testing pool in early October, that would mean that he’d hit six months in early April. If the UFC continues on its usual pace of holding one pay-per-view event per month during that time, it would mean that the first PPV show McGregor could fight on would be none other than the UFC’s triple centenary show, UFC 300.