Chandler: McGregor’s ‘mystique’ is shattered, ready for fight

While Michael Chandler‘s fight against Conor McGregor in June is not official, that won’t stop Chandler from getting into fight camp as early as this month.

Chandler (23-8) has been in headlines early this year, as McGregor (22-6) took to social media last weekend to state they’d have a fight on June 29 in Las Vegas. The UFC has not publicly commented on that date, but Thursday, Chandler told ESPN he is already starting his preparations.

“We all know it’s never 100 percent officially confirmed until we actually step in the Octagon, but obviously my team has been in touch with the UFC,” Chandler said. “June 29 is what I’m preparing for. I’m leaving my family [at home in Nashville] to head down to Florida to get into fight camp — the fight camp that has been looming now for a year.”

There has been a long buildup to the McGregor vs. Chandler matchup. The two lightweights coached opposite one another on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series early last year, but the UFC has never been able to announce that the fight was actually happening.

McGregor has essentially been in 2½-year-long recovery from a broken leg suffered vs. Dustin Poirier in July 2021. Complicating matters was his removal from USADA’s mandatory drug-testing pool due to the lengthy layoff. McGregor reentered the pool in October, but the UFC decided to end its relationship with USADA at the end of 2023, and began a new drug testing program in 2024.

The Irish superstar has often ignored Chandler over the past year but has seemingly enjoyed making him wait. In his message earlier this week, he also added a surprise caveat, telling Chandler it would be contested at 185 pounds — 30 pounds over the 155-pound lightweight division Chandler has fought in since 2011.

Chandler, 37, has stated he doesn’t care what weight they fight at and believes McGregor is only proposing 185 pounds to one-up Chandler’s suggestion of fighting at 170.

“In his mind, he can’t fight at 170 [pounds], because I called him out at 170,” Chandler said. “He had to say 185. … He always wants to establish dominance, to make people think that I am less than him, and that’s fine. I’ll take that all day long, because I’m confident in myself, and I don’t have an ego.

“I have no problem with what people say. I have no problem with people’s opinions. Everybody’s got an opinion, and who cares? … I’ll take that ‘back seat’ to him the entire time, and if he thinks he’s taking a fight against a lesser man, then so be it. He’ll find out on June 29.”

During McGregor’s rise to two-weight champion in 2016, he was known for effective mental warfare against opponents — but Chandler says that mystique has been shattered in recent years. Perhaps McGregor is trying to return to that advantage by making Chandler wait and dictating the fight weight, but Chandler is confident it’s all for nothing.

“Look at Dustin Poirier, a mentally tough man. Look at Nate Diaz, a mentally tough man. These dudes didn’t care about that stuff because once the bell rang, all of that is over and we’re going,” Chandler said. “Conor’s skill set, I don’t think it’s where it used to be. I don’t think Conor is as scary as he used to be back in those days.”

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