Demetrious Johnson fears Michael Chandler ‘might be wasting his time’ waiting for Conor McGregor

Michael Chandler might be wasting his time waiting for Conor McGregor. At least, so says Demetrious Johnson.

Chandler is set to fight McGregor on June 29 in the main event of UFC 303. It’s a fight Chandler has been waiting on for 18 months, but over the weekend a curveball was thrown when the planned pre-fight press conference in Dublin on Monday was postponed last-minute, with little communication as to why. Speculation immediately turned to wondering if the fight is in jeopardy, and while Johnson believes the fight will ultimately happen, he also recognizes it’s possible Chandler has been waiting all this time for nothing.

“We’ll see. At the end of the day, that’s the shitty thing about this,” Johnson said on The MMA Hour. “If I was Chandler … as an athlete, you make your money when you compete. I can’t remember the last time Chandler competed. I don’t know if it was against Charles [Oliveira] or Dustin [Poirier] or Justin [Gaethje]. I just don’t know. It doesn’t ring a bell in my mind. So for me, he’s been sitting on the sidelines to wait and fight Conor McGregor, this might never happen.

“Conor could be like, [in a McGregor impersonation] ‘F*ck you guys! I don’t need your f*cking money! I don’t need none of you guys! I’m on a f*cking yacht!’ So that could potentially happen, and then it’s like Chandler waited all this time [for nothing]. Or it does happen. So that’s how I feel right now. I just feel like Chandler might be wasting his time.”

Chandler most recently competed at UFC 281 on November of 2022, losing by rear-naked choke to Dustin Poirier. After that fight, Chandler served as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 31 opposite McGregor, with the idea being the two would meet sometime in 2023. And while the fight was often rumored last year, it never actually got booked, with the goalposts continually being pushed back. All the while, Chandler kept waiting, in hopes of finally getting a fight he’s targeted since joining the UFC in 2020.

Now with the fight potentially up in the air, the question is whether Chandler will continue waiting for McGregor. At 38 years old, Chandler has already spent 18 months of the tail end of his career not competing, but as Johnson notes, the financial incentives of holding out for McGregor are quite compelling.

“It’s definitely the biggest payday of his career,” Johnson said. “I think we all can agree to that. I think it’s something like Dustin said, what is he fighting for? Does he want to be world champion or does he want that big mega-fight? That’s a decision for him to make. I can’t make that decision for him. What would I do? I don’t know his financial situation, so I don’t know.

“It’s tough. A mega-fight with Conor, you beat Conor, that just opens up so many more doors for you than if he was to beat a Justin Gaethje. The biggest star in the sport of MMA is Conor McGregor. We can all agree on that. Even though the motherf*cker doesn’t fight, at all, he’s still the biggest star.”

UFC 303 takes place on June 29 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and caps of the UFC’s 2024 International Fight Week.

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