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Constantly reminded of him, Chandler wants McGregor in Sphere

LAS VEGAS – His International Fight Week trip to “Sin City” turned out to be for pleasure rather than a business trip, but Michael Chandler said he’s learned to be OK with that.

Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was supposed to fight Conor McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) in the UFC 303 main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a fight that has been building for 18 months. But McGregor pulled out of the fight with a broken toe.

McGregor was set to return from a three-year layoff after suffering a broken leg in July 2021. It was the first time he has pulled out of a UFC fight, and he’s been raked over the coals by critics for pulling out after he’s been highly critical of past opponents or rivals for doing the same.

The fight would have been the biggest of Chandler’s career, and almost certainly the biggest payday.

“I can honestly say it really hasn’t been very hard,” Chandler said of the constant delays and speculation about when they’d fight, followed by McGregor’s ultimate pullout. “It’s International Fight Week, and I’ve taken pictures and shaken the hands and met over a thousand fans this weekend, and every single one of them talking about the flights that they took, where they came from, the tickets that they bought – they all came here to watch me fight Connor.

“So obviously, I’m constantly reminded of it. But as an athlete, you get really good at compartmentalizing it, and I don’t think it has affected me as much as most people would think it has. It’s just the way the world goes. This is the way life is. You get knocked down, you get let down, and the true measure of a man is how he stands under circumstances like this.”

McGregor has said he’d like to fight in August or September, and the UFC has a show planned for September at The Sphere.

Chandler likes that idea, too, it seems.

“Sphere would be great,” he said. “It’s 10 weeks away. I’m not a doctor, but I know a pinky toe doesn’t take too long to heal. That would be massive. It sounds to me like it’s going to be a one-and-done type of event.

“Dana has touted it as the biggest event in UFC history, and it may never be done (again), and if you want to do the numbers that they want to do, it seems as though this fight between myself and Conor would fit the bill. I am not the one to make those decisions, but the UFC knows I always have my work boots on and I’m ready to go tomorrow if they want to go.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 303.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

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