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Dana White: Conor McGregor’s next fight is Michael Chandler – not Justin Gaethje

The Ultimate Fighter Season 31: Team McGregor vs. Team Chandler Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

So much for Justin Gaethje taking Michael Chandler’s spot in the Conor McGregor sweepstakes.

Per UFC President Dana White, McGregor’s callout of Gaethje in the wake of his “BMF” title win was just the kind of head-fake the former two-division champ likes to pull on the media – and his opponents.

That means the coach vs. coach fight promised to fans at the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter 31 – a rout in favor of coach Chandler over McGregor in the reality-show tournament – will take place as planned, at least as far as White knows.

“I talked to Conor, either yesterday or the day before, and yeah, he’s ready to fight,” White said at the post-fight press conference for DWCS Season 7, Week 1. “I said, ‘Listen, get in shape and let’s figure this out.’”

Asked if Chandler was still McGregor’s opponent, White said, “definitely Chandler.”

“He likes to f*** with everybody,” White added. “You know what I mean? Especially his opponent, or possible opponents.”

McGregor very much made it seem like he wanted to abandon Chandler as his next opponent, promising a beatdown of Gaethje after UFC 291, where he avenged a loss to three-time McGregor opponent Dustin Poirier with a vicious head-kick knockout. The noise was sufficient enough for Gaethje to challenge McGregor to sign a contract – after no-selling the idea based on his allegation that “The Notorious” uses performance-enhancing drugs.

As recently as Monday, McGregor claimed the UFC had lost interest in Chandler. But White said that isn’t the case.

Now, apparently all that’s left is for McGregor to get in fight-ready shape – and presumably complete a six-month stint in the drug testing pool led by UFC anti-doping partner U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which is required for athletes who leave the drug testing pool (unless the promotion specifically grants an exemption).

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