Can Conor McGregor Become a World Champion Again?

Although the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues to establish itself as one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet – it’s undeniable that there’s an added buzz surrounding professional mixed martial arts (MMA) when Conor McGregor is in the picture.

That is evidenced by the organization’s historical Pay-Per-View (PPV) numbers, with eight of the UFC’s ten highest-rated cards headlined by bouts involving McGregor. It’s easy to see why – with his brash personality, psychic-like predictions, and immense talent making him a promoter’s dream.

However, since his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 and subsequent loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov 14 months later – the Irishman’s career in the octagon has been on a downward slide for the most part. The man affectionately known as ‘The Notorious One’ has lost three of his last four fights, with his first-round technical knockout victory over a fading Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in 2020 marking his only win during that time.

His last two defeats were particularly demoralizing, with him being knocked out by multiple-time lightweight world title challenger Dustin Poirer in their much-anticipated rematch – before suffering a broken leg in the pair’s trilogy bout six months later.

Now 34, time is running out for McGregor to return to world champion status – particularly in what is a stacked 155 lb division that includes the likes of Islam Makhachev, Charles Oliveira, Poirer, Justin Gaethje, and Michael Chandler.

However, he has made it known that he wants a world title belt back around his waist – and with UFC’s President Dana White recently announcing The Notorious One’s next fight –fans won’t have to wait too long before they see the southpaw in action.

McGregor will be taking on former world title challenger Chandler later this year (a date has yet to be confirmed) – whose power, willingness to trade and enormous heart has made him one of the most entertaining and popular fighters on the UFC roster today.

As part of the contract, McGregor’s clash with Chandler will be preceded by a coaching commitment on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). For those unfamiliar with the program, it’s a reality television series that features professional MMA fighters living together in Las Vegas as they compete against each other in the hope of securing a six-figure contract with the UFC.

McGregor has been a coach on the series on one occasion beforehand, doing so in 2015 for The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Faber. Given his propensity for trash-talk, not only will taking part in TUF alongside Chandler be must-see TV, it may also provide McGregor with the opportunity to implement the psychological warfare he was admired for early in his career.

That’s outside the octagon, inside of it, Chandler’s style could bode very well for McGregor, as the American has proven relatively easy to hit in previous fights. With McGregor’s accuracy, reach and a stance that at times proves tough to navigate for his opponents – Chandler could very well be tailormade for him. However, McGregor can’t afford to underestimate his opposition, with Chandler displaying his devastating knockout power in wins over Dan Hooker and Tony Ferguson.

If McGregor were to defeat Chandler and do so in convincing fashion, is becoming a two-time UFC lightweight champion likely? It’s too early to tell, however, given his bargaining power, from a business perspective, don’t be surprised if he jumps the queue and gets a shot. One thing is for certain though, if he were to lose to Chandler, any chance of him returning to the top of the division will be all but lost.

That’s even if the fight ends up taking place at lightweight, with talks of it potentially being at the higher division of welterweight (170 lbs) gathering steam. Nonetheless, whether it’s a lightweight or welterweight showdown – this fight has all the hallmarks of a classic.

For those interested in having a bet on McGregor vs Chandler later this year – both are garnering odds of 5/6.