Dana White makes announcement confirming Conor McGregor vs Michael Chandler UFC fight WON’T take place this year

DANA WHITE has officially confirmed Conor McGregor’s UFC return WON’T take place this year.

The promotion’s first simultaneous two-weight world champion will be welcomed back to the octagon by fellow fan favourite Michael Chandler.

Conor McGregor is set to be welcomed back to the octagon by Michael ChandlerTWITTER@THENOTORIOUSMMA

INSTAGRAM@THENOTORIOUSMMAMcGregor’s apparent absence from the USADA drug testing pool delayed the finalisation of the fight[/caption]

GETTYThe Notorious appeared to be on course to return on the final PPV card of the year UFC 296[/caption]

GETTYUFC boss Dana White has announced UFC 296 won’t be headlined by The Notorious[/caption]

McGregor, 35, was slated to throw down with the former Bellator lightweight champ after they finished filming season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter.

But The Notorious’ apparent absence from the USADA testing pool – which he must be in for a minimum of six months before he’s eligible to compete – delayed the bout.

McGregor could, however, have made an end-of-year return at UFC 296 had the promotion opted to give him an exemption to the six-month written notice rule.

But the UFC brass have seemingly opted against doing so, deciding to have Brit Leon Edwards headline their final pay-per-view card of the year on December 16 against Colby Covington.

White announced the fight early on Thursday morning, saying: “At UFC 296 on December 16, in Las Vegas, Leon Edwards versus Colby Covington will headline our last pay-per-view of the year.

“With the welterweight title on the line.

“The champ hasn’t lost a fight in eight years and is coming off back-to-back wins over the greatest welterweight of all time – Kamaru Usman.

“He is defending his title against Colby Covington, a relentless pressure fighter with unstoppable cardio.”

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UFC president and newly-minted CEO White hinted earlier this month that McGregor would make his return to the cage in 2024.

During an appearance on Piers Morgan Uncensored, he revealed: “He is back in the gym, he’s training.

“And, yeah, I expect to see Conor fighting next year.”

McGregor’s public flirting with the prospect of a grudge match with Justin Gaethje for his comeback fight has raised doubts about him fighting Chandler.

But White is adamant the UFC won’t deviate from their initial plans for their poster boy.

During an appearance on Crain & Company, he said: “To not do that fight will be ridiculous.

“We’re working on it. I’m hoping we can do it early next year.”

Fan favourite McGregor – Ireland’s first and only UFC champion – hasn’t set foot inside the octagon since breaking his leg in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier.

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