Alongside the major title fight story-lines of UFC 292, the card carried another, secondary purpose. Having just wrapped airing of the 31st season of the Ultimate Fighter, Saturday’s PPV played host to the season finale. The bantamweight and lightweight talents who had successfully navigated the fighter house and its 8-man tournament brackets faced off to find out who would be crowned the next ‘Ultimate Fighter.’
As one of the show’s celebrity coaches, former Bellator champion and current top-ranked UFC lightweight Michael Chandler was on hand to cheer on his team. Unsurprisingly, at this point, his rival coach—combat sports superstar Conor McGregor—was nowhere to be seen. In a recent series of audio posts to his Twitter account, McGregor looked to shed a little light on why he no-showed the finale.
Conor McGregor was told TUF finale would get its own card
In a four part audio recording that has since been deleted, Conor McGregor talked about the UFC 292 PPV, admitting that he didn’t even stay up for all of it, but did watch the prelims live. According to the SBG talent, he’s only just recently learned the value of giving more time to his friends and family, while also not disrupting his training schedule.
“Last night, I actually logged off before the PPV began,” Conor McGregor admitted. “Was it the finale, where was the finale? I asked for a full card for all these contestants, because I vouch for all of them. Some great little fighters were on that, I think. We were all over ESPN… I was told that was going to happen. That didn’t happen. Maybe now it will happen, I imagine we’ll do something, I’m sure. It’s on tape.
“I knew the finale was on, I coulda been there. But that’s John [Kavanagh], that’s Brad [Katona]… I would have loved to be there, to be honest with ya, but I said to myself, ‘I can’t keep eating into my time, here.’ And just, like, ‘Yeah, let’s go here,’ and go places and socialize. I missed family, I missed weddings and everything on the comeup… I wouldn’t even come outside the door unless it had to do with fighting. That was me…
“A good friend, a dear friend of mine said to me, ‘There comes a point, you’ve got to get back to the shop. You can’t just be handing out flowers all the time, you gotta get back to the shop,” a barely lucid McGregor continued. “I’m at that spot now. I didn’t go to the fight because of this reason… I’m here having a decent camp and I’m getting my rounds in daily. And we’ll be building off of this, body-wise and work wise. It’s going tremendous…
“Then I’m watching the fights… and I’m like, ‘Fair play that you stayed put, you didn’t fly across the world and disrupt your training. So good champ-champ, well done champ-champ’…”
Conor McGregor won’t be fighting in December
Despite not watching live, however, Conor McGregor did apparently catch up on the event after the fact, and had nothing but praise for both Aljamain Sterling and Sean O’Malley, as well as fellow rising star Ian Garry. None of it was coherent enough to put to text, but the 35-year-old did provide some clarity on his Octagon return, pointing to Chris Weidman’s fight against Brad Tavares as just one of the reasons he likely won’t see the cage in 2023.
“They’re not gonna let me fight in December, ladies and gentlemen,” Conor McGregor admitted. “Did you see Chris Weidman? Imagine what that injury was. I feel like I’ve been kept from my livelihood. And I’ve been feeling this for years. On-off, on-off, and all of a sudden these things pop up and it’s like, ‘Wha!?’ I’m not gonna air grievances… I’m ready, yeah? I’m ready. I wanted the announcement, December 16th. I’ve given everything. It’s not gonna happen, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen.
“I want to show up to the gym and play. I don’t want to kill someone, I don’t want to be killed. I’m actually starting to think, now, of tomorrow’s work when I’m doing today’s work. Think of tomorrow while you’re in today, so you’ll make it to tomorrow. That’s where I’m at, at the minute.
Tough break for Michael Chandler, who still seems to firmly believe that sooner or later he and Conor McGregor will step into the Octagon for the fight the UFC promised him.
“Obviously, that’s what I’ve always signed up for,” Chandler told the assembled press at a UFC 292 media scrum (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I signed up for The Ultimate Fighter for the fight at the end of the tunnel. The fight at the end of the tunnel was Team Chandler vs. Team McGregor on The Ultimate Fighter and then Conor vs. Chandler. That’s the fight that I’ve known is going to happen the entire time, I’ve never wavered. Even when Conor is wavering, is he really wavering, or is he just trying to realize that every single one of you guys is watching every single one of his movements, every single one of his thumb strokes on Twitter.”
Maybe he’ll get his wish and Conor McGregor really and truly will make his return to the UFC sometime in the near future. For the moment, however, it seems like the former two division champion is still a long way away from anything resembling his next fight.
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