McGregor is expected to face Michael Chandler sometime in late 2023 following the airing of The Ultimate Fighter 31, which saw both men serve as coaches. By the time the bout rolls around, McGregor will be out of action for more than two years, having been sidelined since suffering a grievous leg injury in the second of his back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier in July 2021.
Askren can’t help but wonder not only which version of the former two-division champ shows up, but also whether the fight even happens at all.
“When was the last time you’ve seen a training video of Conor McGregor?” Askren asked Daniel Cormier on the duo’s Funky & The Champ show. “Every video I see, he’s partying, he’s dancing, he’s drinking. I don’t know. Is this guy taking it seriously anymore? And listen, he’s rich. He can do whatever he wants, apparently. But we also don’t have to consider him a really elite fighter, and he needs to prove that to us again.
“Listen, I am not under the belief that Conor McGregor is ever going to fight regularly,” Askren continued. “I just saw he came out saying, ‘I’m going to fight three or four times in the next year.’ That ain’t going to happen. Come on, man. He’s fought four times in six years. Why would he fight three or four times in one year? That’s crazy talk. And I’m not even convinced he’s [going to actually end up] fighting Michael Chandler.”
McGregor, 34, has mostly been an absent figure from the sport since conquering the UFC by becoming the promotion’s first-ever simultaneous two-division champion with his 2016 victory over Eddie Alvarez. “The Notorious” has competed in MMA just four times since that fateful night, winning only once.
McGregor has found success elsewhere in the business world, selling his majority stake in Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey to Proximo Spirits in 2021 in a deal worth up to an estimated $600 million. But his in-cage results have not matched his money-making ventures outside the cage, and Askren is doubtful whether the version of McGregor who once took the sport by storm ever comes back.
“Dustin Poirier, 2014, was the last person Conor McGregor has beaten who’s still in the UFC. This guy is 1-3 in the last six years,” Askren said.
“Maybe I’m being a hater here. Maybe I’m being a skeptic. But I want to see him fight someone. He’s 1-3 in his last four. That is over the last six years. He has the one win against Donald Cerrone. He just hasn’t been active at all. We’ve seen almost none of him. We haven’t seen him since July of 2021. That was almost two years ago now.
“I think Conor in his delusions of grandeur probably still sees himself at the top of the heap and probably still sees himself getting another belt,” Askren continued. “And there’s a chance, because listen, here’s the thing about Michael Chandler — I love Michael Chandler, he was my college teammate, but every Michael Chandler fight is almost a coin flip.
“There’s a chance [Chandler] is going to kill this dude. There’s a chance he’ll just go boom, put him down. But then he’s going to try some crazy s*** and there’s a chance he might get put down. McGregor hits hard. I don’t know, I want Michael to win, but it could go either way, and if it goes either way, and it’s a huge fight, they might throw him in for a title. Who knows?”