Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler fight ‘very much in limbo’ for UFC 303

The Ultimate Fighter Season 31: Team McGregor vs. Team Chandler
Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler at UFC 303 is in dire straights.

Last week, the UFC 303 main event was thrown into turmoil when a planned Dublin press conference for the event was postponed last minute without explanation. That immediately raised concerns that the long-anticipated fight between McGregor and Chandler was suddenly in jeopardy, and reports soon circulated that the promotion was looking into alternate plans for their International Fight Week headliner.

But after a few days of tense speculation, and no official announcement from the UFC, it appeared things were back on track and McGregor would be fighting Chandler on June 29 in Las Vegas. And while officially that is still the case, it’s looking more and more unlikely, per a report from MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani on Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour.

“On Monday of last week, I would say optimism level was not very high,” Helwani said. “There was some concern, there was some doubt, there were road blocks. I came on this show on Wednesday and said optimism was high. There was great positivity, all those words I used. It felt like we had dodged a bullet, it felt like we had turned a corner.

“On Tuesday, I reported that the UFC was sending out feelers, they were reaching out to fighters and managers to see who could possibly be available to either replace the fight — meaning two new fighters — or step in and replace one of the fighters involved to fight on this card. Obviously the fighter we’re talking about is Conor McGregor, because if not, why would Chandler be ready to go on a plane to Dublin?

“So I said that it seemed we were all good, and by Wednesday, no feelers were being thrown out, no one was talking about this, really. It seemed as though all systems were a go.

“Yesterday morning I started to hear — as I continued to check in because I know there’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of doubt, a lot of concern about this because it’s such a big fight and because no one involved are speaking about this publicly, Chandler did the one interview and I think that squashed some concern, but no one is really talking about this — and I found out, via multiple sources, that they are reaching out to people again. They are reaching out to managers, they are reaching out to fighters, as potential replacements, as a new fight, as backups, as someone stepping in for McGregor, or just as insurance. Just in case. All these things are in play.

“One step further, here we are, Wednesday, 1:15, the positivity that I talked about exactly one week ago today is nowhere to be found. I would say this fight is very much in limbo. I would say it’s hanging on and the UFC is working very, very hard right now to figure out a Plan B. The Plan B could be someone stepping in to fight Chandler, the Plan C could be a whole new fight.”

While there is still no official word on what the obstacles are for this fight, MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin was also able to confirm with sources that the fight is indeed in jeopardy due to an issue with McGregor and that the promotion is looking into all its options. But with UFC 303 just a few weeks away, it’s unclear what replacements are available on this timeline.

Israel Adesanya teases fight camp underway for UFC return: ‘I dont need any more belts, I’m coming for heads’

UFC 276: Adesanya v Cannonier
Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

It appears Israel Adesanya is preparing for his return to the octagon.

The former UFC middleweight champion is expected to challenge rival, and new champion Dricus du Plessis for the championship later this year. Although nothing has been announced officially, the promotion is reportedly targeting UFC 305 on Aug. 18 in Perth, Western Australia.

On his YouTube channel, “The Last Stylebender” discussed the potential return, showed some of the new elements to his strength and conditioning program, and also revealed his new mindset when it comes to his fighting career.

“How excited am I to get back in the octagon? I’m excited,” Adesanya said. “I’m excited, it’s been a year — almost a year, like 11 months by the time I get back in the octagon. People are like, ‘Oh, I hope you get the belt back, I hope you get the belt back,’ I have belts. I don’t need any more belts. I’m coming for heads. That’s what I want to do.

“Just a few that I have to touch, and take.”

In his most recent outing, Adesanya lost the middleweight title to Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 293 this past September — his second loss in his past three fights. After losing the title to multi-time opponent Alex Pereira at UFC 281 in November 2022, the 35-year-old got revenge with a brutal knockout win over Pereira five months later at UFC at UFC 287.

Du Plessis has won nine straight, including capturing middleweight gold at UFC 297 in January, defeating Strickland via split decision.

Adesanya’s approach to his return has been a patient one, and promises that when he steps back inside the octagon, he will do so in an emphatic way.

“I’m excited to come back, but everything comes at its own time,” Adesnaya said. “So right now it’s just the time for training, chilling, working, relaxing, healing. And then when it’s time, time for killing.”

Dustin Poirier talks injuries, iconic UFC 302 photo: ‘It captures a feeling I felt in that moment’

UFC 302: Makhachev v Poirier
Photo by Luke Hales/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Dustin Poirier lost to Islam Makhachev in the main event of UFC 302, falling short in his third bid to claim undisputed lightweight gold. It was a grueling fight, one that left Poirier with a broken nose, broken rib, and torn ACL. But while the outcome was unfortunate, it wasn’t all bad: At least he got a cool picture from it.

Speaking on The MMA Hour, Poirier talked about his experience at UFC 302 and the now iconic photo from his fight, showing a battered Poirier leaking blood as he continues to fight on. It’s a photo Poirier loves.

UFC 302: Makhachev v Poirier Photo by Luke Hales/Getty Images

“When I see the photo, it doesn’t just capture a moment, it captures a feeling I felt in that moment walking towards him,” Poirier said. “One of us is going down. Feeling like, ‘I’m leaving it all out here right now, this is everything I have.’ That feeling is something special and that picture brings me to that place.”

And that place is perhaps a more harrowing one than MMA fans even realized. Poirier revealed that he broke his nose during the fight due to an inadvertent clash of heads, but the rib injury was actually something that happened during training camp, and potentially jeopardized the fight from happening in the first place.

“I busted my ribs in camp, but of course I don’t want to talk about that,” Poirier said. “I don’t think it changed anything or the way that I fought. But yeah, I smashed my ribs up bad.

“My wife wanted me to [pull out] but I wasn’t going to. ... It was too close. I was already halfway thought camp. I was like, ‘I’m fighting for the belt.’ I was halfway through training camp and I’m fighting for the lightweight title, I wasn’t pulling out.”

When asked about the rib injury, Poirier insisted that it played no part in the fight, saying that while he feels it now, he only felt it once during the bout.

“The only time I felt them in the whole fight was maybe in the third round, whenever he had a body triangle, close to my corner, and he tried to mount me with the body triangle,” Poirier said. “He was trying to mount while he still had the lock and all the pressure kind of twisted my body. That’s the only time I really had to protect myself on instinct because I felt the ribs hurting. But other than that, no problem.”

The problem, Poirier insists, was with Makhachev himself. Poirier says the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world was simply too good. That, not the myriad injuries, is why Poirier didn’t get his hand raised.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” Poirier said. “These style of fights are the toughest for me, guys who are going to chain wrestle and keep the fight slower. I do better in a brawl. Or even somebody who is going to exchange and plant their feet and throw punches with me, that’s where I find ways to win. This was a tough fight to try to take advantage of openings when he’s on the back foot and I’m kind of chasing. It was just a tough style for me.

“But he was everything I thought he was going to be. He’s the champ. I knew he was tough. I knew he was going to be strong, I knew he had grit. You don’t get in the position he’s in by not having all of those things. You have to have everything, and it was exactly what I thought it was going to be.”

The Ultimate Fighter 32 video: Robert Valentin scores crushing elbow knockout

The Ultimate Fighter Season 32: Team Grasso vs. Team Shevchenko
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Robert Valentin put himself on the map with a big knockout.

The Swiss fighter proved why he deserved to be Alexa Grasso’s No. 1 pick as he ran through Giannis Bachar in under 30 seconds on Tuesday’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter. Valentin looked to be the heavy favorite on paper as the bigger and more experienced fighter, and he didn’t disappoint when the cage door closed.

Watch Valentin’s wicked elbow knockout below.

Valentin touted himself as a grappling expert prior to fight day, but didn’t need to show off any of his wrestling or judo to deal with Bachar. He caught the Greek fighter lunging in, landing an elbow that immediately sent Bachar crashing to the mat. Referee Chris Tognoni was quick to jump in and save the fallen fighter from further punishment.

The win evened the score at one apiece for Grasso and rival coach Valentina Shevchenko, after Shevchenko’s Roedie Roets beat Grasso’s Guillermo Torres on Episode 1. Making the loss sting even more for Shevchenko is the fact that Valentin had previously trained with her at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand.

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The Mixed Martial Arts Hour is back in your life! Below is a rundown of Wednesday’s show, which begins at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT / 6 p.m. UK time.

1 p.m. ET: We kick things off by answering your questions in the latest edition of On the Nose.

2 p.m.: Anderson Silva joins us from Sao Paulo to preview Saturday’s exhibition boxing bout against Chael Sonnen.

2:25 p.m.: Chael Sonnen then stops by to do the same.

3:10 p.m.: Raul Rosas Jr. looks back at his UFC Louisville victory over Ricky Turcios.

3:30 p.m.: Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe go face-to-face ahead of their boxing rematch for the WBO cruiserweight world title this Saturday.

4 p.m.: The Parlay Boys make their latest selections for the combat sports weekend.

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