UFC: Conor McGregor plans to return in December and lays out his next three fights

Jul 9, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Conor McGregor is greeted by UFC president Dana White during weigh ins for UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 296 in December certainly looks like it will mark the return of the biggest draw in mixed martial arts history. Former two-division champion Conor McGregor (22-6) is getting closer and closer to an octagon return. The Notorious one was at the Anthony Joshua fight this weekend and confirmed his plans to return in December.

The plan is for McGregor to headline the UFC’s final PPV of 2023 against former title challenger Michael Chandler (23-8). Chandler and McGregor have served as opposing coaches on this season of The Ultimate Fighter. However, recently, McGregor has made some comments suggesting he might be interested in another fight.

McGregor has taken to social media where he seems much more interested in fighting the newly crowned BMF Justin Gaethje (25-4). However, Dana White confirmed last week that McGregor was going to be fighting Chandler next regardless of recent comments. McGregor then re-affirmed White’s comments over the weekend.

UFC’s Star Plans

In speaking with TalkSport, McGregor confirmed that he would be returning in December to take on Michael Chandler. McGregor said he had to take that fight, but he clearly doesn’t seem that interested in the matchup. The former UFC champ said the Chandler fight is the first of three fights in his plan for the next year.

McGregor said that after the fight with Chandler, he wants to fight Gaethje for the BMF title. Following the Gaethje fight, he wants to conclude the trilogy with Nate Diaz (21-13). Despite not being under contract with the UFC, Nate Diaz has said that he definitely sees him and McGregor finishing off their trilogy eventually.

Everything to me is contingent on the first fight. If McGregor cannot defeat Michael Chandler, I’m not sure he will even fight again. After this long road back to the octagon, I just find it hard to believe that he would return to the UFC after another loss. That said, if he knocks Chandler out, he’s moving right along with his plan.

Justin Gaethje is likely in line to fight the winner of Islam Makhachev – Charles Oliveira. That fight would take place sometime in the first half of 2024. Win or lose, Gaethje could be next for McGregor. That said, if Gaethje becomes UFC champion, would McGregor get an undisputed title shot? We know the promotion would say yes, but would Gaethje? I think he would.

Win or lose against Gaethje, the fight with Diaz would have some validity and would do huge numbers towards the second half of 2024. McGregor has a solid plan, but it all starts with Michael Chandler. He has to win that one. If he doesn’t, he might be done for good.