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Michael Chandler addresses Conor McGregor USADA situation: ‘It’s not going to make a difference’

Michael Chandler remains confident that Conor McGregor will meet him inside the UFC octagon.

The two have been on a collision course for months now, with Chandler having repeatedly called for a fight with McGregor in interviews before the two were booked to serve as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 31. Much of the publicity for the show was built around Chandler and McGregor fighting at a future date, but McGregor has teased other options for his comeback on social media and his drug testing status with the USADA is still in limbo.

Chandler spoke to the media backstage at UFC 292 on Saturday and he was asked if there were any concerns with McGregor and the USADA.

“That whole situation is very interesting to me,” Chandler said. “I’ve got a lot of different thoughts on it. Ultimately, I signed with the organization September of 2020 and I could have fought October of 2020. So this whole, he retired so he’s got to take six months to come back, I mean, are we splitting hairs here? What are we talking about?

“For me, as long as a man is in the USADA testing pool for months on end and he has the ability to be tested every single day or multiple times a day for a certain period of time-It’s a sport, that to me is a very interesting gray area. Ultimately, I’m out here and I can fight Conor with one day in the USADA testing pool or a year in the USADA testing pool. It’s not going to make a difference.”

Chandler made it clear that while he’s eager to fight McGregor, he won’t wait forever. He emphasized that he’s financially secure and that he has a deadline in mind to move on from the contest, one that he’s not willing to share just yet.

His first choice is still to fight McGregor though and he doesn’t see why it isn’t possible for the UFC and the USADA to find a section in the rules that allows McGregor to compete in the near future.

“Being in the USADA testing pool is a prerequisite to competing in the UFC,” Chandler said. “What I’m saying is, are we splitting hairs with the whole ‘He’s got to be in for six months’ thing? How long was Bo Nickal’s opponent in the USADA testing pool? He signed on six days’ notice, right? This is what we do all the time, it’s just an interesting thing because of the character, the platform that Conor holds, who he is, we want to just dissect and make a huge deal out of this certain time frame type of thing. That’s all I’m saying.

“Ultimately, there’s guys being signed all the time and they’re competing. But being in the USADA testing pool is a prerequisite to competing with us and he will be before a fight is announced. So look for that and then look for a fight announcement right away.”

Chandler dominated the coaching competition on TUF 31 as his team of veterans ran roughshod on McGregor’s team of prospects. Seven of Chandler’s eight fighters advanced past the first round and all four of this season’s finalists originally came from his side, including eventual winners Brad Katona and Kurt Holobaugh.

As much as Chandler enjoyed getting one over on McGregor on the reality show, he’s still passionate about beating McGregor at the real thing.

“Obviously, that’s what I’ve always signed up for,” Chandler said. “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.

“So he’s a master at it, he’s good at it, and I’m a man who stands firm in my convictions and my beliefs and I think when we step inside the octagon it’s going to be the biggest fight we’ve seen in a very long time and I do think the entire world is looking forward to the greatest comeback in combat sports history. Can he do it? Is he still that guy? We don’t know until he actually goes in there and fights me, so either way, I’m excited about it. I’m excited to compete against him.”

Chandler would still like to see the bout with McGregor be scheduled for December, but he’s not holding his breath. He’s also not bothered by McGregor’s erratic social media activity, which bounces from promoting their fight to calling out a who’s who of MMA stars to all sorts of other inexplicable comments.

This is the fight that Chandler has always wanted and he’s not letting any distractions deter him from it.

“Conor can create whatever narrative he wants,” Chandler said. “We, as a society in mixed martial arts, we listen to what he says, how he says it, his voice inflection, the flippant nature in which he says it or the emphatic nature in which he says it, so we can read between the lines. But ultimately maybe he realized, ‘I’ve decided to do this reality show against this guy I hope I don’t have to fight and then it turns out now I kind of agreed that I was going to fight this guy and now I kind of look like a sissy if I back out from fighting said guy.’

“I said it from the very beginning, I gave Conor kudos at the very beginning of the show. You saw when he walked into the UFC APEX and they made us stand there for 25 minutes, awkwardly walking around each other and circling each other, trying to get some audio clips. I said, ‘I respect you for coming back and agreeing to fight me because I’m not an easy fight, you know I’m not an easy fight, the entire world knows I’m not an easy fight for anybody, let alone you. So I respect him for coming back and fighting me and yeah, I think he might have a little bit of second thoughts here and there. There’s some easier fights for him to take, but we’ll see what happens.”

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