Conor McGregor in a suit

USADA and The Return of Conor McGregor in 2023

USADA and The Return of Conor McGregor in 2023

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  • Post last modified:February 14, 2023
  • Post category:MMA
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Conor McGregor in a suit

Former UFC Featherweight and Lightweight champion Conor McGregor, has been out of USADA’s testing pool since the third quarter of 2021. Normally, when a fighter leaves the Anti-doping agency’s testing pool, it could mean only two things. Either the fighter has left the UFC or the fighter has officially retired. Since neither of these are applicable to McGregor’s current situation, it begs the question, What the hell is going on with the former double champ and how soon can we get him back to the octagon?

Conor’s Leg recovery.

Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier

Before we start forming our own hypothesis on why he even got out of the testing pool, let’s talk about the real reason why we have not seen him in the octagon in the past one and a half years. If you have been following the sport, then you know McGregor suffered a nasty leg break in his trilogy against ‘The Diamond’ Dustin Poirier.

It was so nasty that the fight ended in a doctor’s stoppage. In these kinds of situations, a fighter needs some time off in order for the leg to recover. Cases like these are very rare and Conor is one of four men in the UFC to have suffered such an injury in the past. Anderson Silva suffered a similar ordeal back in 2013 in his fight against Chris Weidman in UFC 168. It took 13 months before ‘the Spider’ fully recovered and returned to the octagon. For those people saying that McGregor has taken too long in ‘recovery mode’, these things take time and not all injuries are the same.

Will USADA grant McGregor an exception?

Conor McGregor in the octagon

Typically, when a fighter re-enrolls into USADA’s testing pool after being out, they have to spend six months of ineligibility before they can compete again. During this period, the fighter will constantly be tested for any PEDs (Performance-Enhancing Drugs). If the fighter manages get through the six months without testing positive for any PEDs, they become fully eligible to compete. Earlier this year, former double champ Henry Cejudo, had to go through the same thing after coming out of retirement.

There are always exceptions to rules and it turns out, you can circumvent the mandatory six-month period, but there is a catch. The fighter has no power or say in this decision. All they can do is request for an exemption and hope that USADA grants them one. This has happened in the past and if a fighter is granted the exemption, they have to pass only two drug tests before competing again.

However, this is highly unlikely in McGregor’s situation. In an email to ESPN, the USADA director of communications Averi Walker wrote, “McGregor is not enrolled in our testing pool and would have to be for six months unless an exception is granted, which we do not think would be applicable.”

What Next for ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor riding a bicycle
Conor McGregor riding a bicycle

In a recent tweet, McGregor wrote that he will be clear for testing in February 2023. If he re-enters USADA’s testing pool on the said date, then the earliest we could see him fight is August 2023.

After all is said and done, there is still one more question, who should he fight next? Despite being one of the most recognized and wealthiest MMA fighters in history, he has had a very tough run in the last five years. Since 2016, McGregor has been 1-3 in the UFC, his only win being against Donald Cerrone. Dustin Poirier, who sits at the number two spot in the UFC lightweight rankings, outclassed him twice in one year. Seeing how big Conor has gotten, will he be able to comfortably make 155lb? Well, a few fan-favorite matchups in my opinion include, Michael Chandler at 170lb, Justin Gaethje at 155 or maybe even Jorge Masvidal at 170lb. Either way, we hope to see him make his debut mid next year.

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