UFC: Conor McGregor to return to octagon after three years with fight in June

Irishman due to headline UFC 303 in Las Vegas with fight against Michael Chandler

Conor McGregor will make his long-awaited return to the octagon against Michael Chandler on June 29th, three years after he broke his left leg during a fight against Dustin Poirier, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president, Dana White, said. The welterweight bout is scheduled to headline the UFC 303 card in Las Vegas, White said after Saturday’s UFC 300 event.

The Irishman (22-6) has not fought since the clean break in his tibia resulted in a second TKO loss to Poirier in a row in July 2021. The injury required the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion to undergo surgery. The former Bellator lightweight champion Chandler (23-8) also lost to his fellow American Poirier in his last fight in November 2022.

The fight has been teased by the UFC for more than a year, with McGregor and Chandler coaching opposing teams in their MMA-based reality show The Ultimate Fighter last year. McGregor announced the same date and opponent for his next bout in a video posted on X last December, calling it the “greatest comeback of all time”.

“There’s all kinds of things that go on behind the scenes and it’s all about timing. Chandler’s been ready but Conor hasn’t been ready,” White said. “We talked about this in one of the press conferences recently, he had a lot of obligations that he had to deal with. What you don’t want him doing is accepting a fight when he’s got a ton of obligations and he can’t train 100 per cent for a fight, so here we are tonight.”


On the UFC 300 card, Brazil’s Alex Pereira pulled off a stunning first-round knockout victory over Jamahal Hill to retain the light heavyweight title, while Zhang Weili beat Yan Xiaonan to retain the straweight belt.

Pereira waved off what looked to be a low blow from Hill before landing a left hook that sent the American sprawling backwards on to the canvas. He then pounced to rain down blows and force the stoppage at the 3:14 mark of the first round. “I told everyone the whole time, he’s a strong guy, I cannot go away from my strategy, and that’s exactly what I was doing ... I was gauging the distance and the timing, and everything went perfectly,” Pereira said in a post-fight interview in the cage.

Hill had won the title in January 2023, but an injury suffered playing basketball forced him to vacate in July and decorated kickboxer Pereira, a former UFC middleweight champ, took over the belt with a second-round knockout of Jiri Prochazka in November. After coming through the fight relatively unscathed, Pereira said he would like to fight on the upcoming UFC card in Brazil in May, and that he had sustained no damage against Hill.

In the all-Chinese clash in the strawweight event, Zhang looked like she had almost ended the fight in the first round with a rear naked choke, but her 34-year-old opponent survived until the bell, looking unsteady as she got back to her feet. Yan had some success on her feet, but Zhang brought the fight to the mat as often as possible, dominating the grappling exchanges en route to a unanimous decision victory.

In perhaps the most thrilling finish on the card, Max Holloway folded Justin Gaethje with a thunderous right hand to win their lightweight fight by knockout with one second left on the clock after a tremendous five-round battle.