Michael Chandler explains WWE promo against Conor McGregor: ‘I was thrown into the fire’

Please excuse Michael Chandler if his voice is a little hoarse today.

“I have to tell everybody, ‘Hey, I’m not sick. I literally injured my voice on Monday Night Raw,’” Chandler said with a laugh on Wednesday’s episode of The MMA Hour.

“Before I went on, one of the producers was like, ‘Hey, this microphone is gated,’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s gated mean?’ He’s like, ‘Gated means you have to speak up.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t think that’ll be a problem.’ But the moment took over and a star was born.”

Chandler, 37, surprised the combat sports world this week when he made an impromptu appearance on WWE’s flagship program, snatched the microphone, then cut a furious promo calling out Conor McGregor for their still unbooked fight.

Chandler’s eventful night quickly went viral within the dual worlds of MMA and professional wrestling. And according to the former three-time Bellator champion, it was all off the cuff.

“Two minutes before, they said, ‘Hey, they’re going to put the camera on you.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you give me that microphone?’” Chandler recalled. “And they said, ‘Hold on, let me run it up the flagpole real quick.’ And then about a minute later, they said, ‘Hey, you’re going on in a minute and you’re going to get the microphone if you want the microphone,’ and then magic happened. … Less than five minutes [of notice]. There was nothing prepared. Nothing. I was thrown into the fire. Smacked myself a couple of times and then we went.

“There’s no video footage of me taking my shirt off, but Pat McAfee said I took my shirt off [after], so got the crowd into it, I was flexing on everybody. It was fun, man. It was a lot of fun, and man, I’m tired of waiting on Conor, so get his candy ass back to the octagon.”

Chandler said his proactivity was well received by the WWE brass. He said he met with WWE chief content officer and head of creative Paul Michael Levesque — who’s better known by the ring moniker Triple H — after his television spot and was told that WWE “liked what they saw.” While he dispelled rumors that the promo had anything to do with plans for a crossover appearance at Wrestlemania, he did express interest in further kicking down the door for future corporate synergy between UFC and WWE now that the two brands are operating under the same TKO Group Holdings umbrella. Chandler also implied that his appearance wouldn’t be “the last you’re going to see of me in the WWE, possibly.”

“We will see,” Chandler said. “Obviously there’s a crossover there. Ton of respect for the wrestlers, the brass there. They have a ton of respect for the UFC. It was really cool being there, watching other athletes and entertainers and performers, and [them] being huge fans of mixed martial arts, and me of them. So it was really cool. There’s a lot of synergy there and the sky’s the limit when it comes to TKO Group and what we can do in the crossover, and yeah, man, it’s probably just the very beginning.”

Chandler has been tentatively linked to a UFC return bout against McGregor since coaching against the Irishman on The Ultimate Fighter 31 in early 2023. After a long, drawn-out saga, McGregor announced his comeback fight against Chandler on New Year’s Eve for June 29 at the UFC’s annual International Fight Week pay-per-view. UFC CEO Dana White has since denied McGregor’s claims, however, and maintained that there is no fight on the books for the former two-division champion. White reiterated that sentiment this past weekend after UFC 298, stating that he still does not know when — or if — McGregor will return.

McGregor, 35, has not competed since suffering a broken leg in his July 2021 loss to Dustin Poirier, but has repeatedly voiced his displeasure about not being booked by the UFC.

Unfortunately, despite the buzz Chandler’s WWE appearance ignited, the former Bellator lightweight champ said there have been no developments on the McGregor front.

“There’s a lot of complicated stuff happening behind the scenes,” Chandler said. “Nobody has had to feel like they’ve waited longer than me, right? I’ve been ready to fight since right after The Ultimate Fighter. But I also understand the time off has been good, the time with my family has been good, business has been booming outside of me fighting in the cage for a paycheck. But ultimately, Conor’s got his stuff going on. He’s now promoting Road House, that’s coming out in March. Obviously there was the USADA stuff and then now the new drug-testing stuff. There was just all these different layers. Plus what Dana has said, man — money complicates things. There’s a lot of money involved in this fight.

“Everybody, whether you love him or hate him, you’ve got to respect what [McGregor] has built, right? So it has complicated things. But either way, the Chandler train is continuing to move forward, and we’re not getting off this train. This is the fight that is happening. I can’t tell you a date, I can’t tell you a weight, but I can tell you the fight is happening. And I have way too many assurances that this fight is happening to think otherwise. So there’s some dates that make sense — obviously UFC 300 made a lot of sense, it really did.

“I’ve got to be honest with you, I thought that was what it was going to be. It makes a lot of sense. Why wouldn’t you want to headline the biggest card that UFC has ever put on? But ultimately, it’s not and we stay patient, we stay training, we stay ready.”

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