Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor is the go-to name for fighters in a few different weight classes to call out, but Paul Felder isn’t sure if the Irishman will fight in 2023.
McGregor hasn’t fought since July 2021. He appears to be fully healed from the broken leg he suffered in the UFC 264 loss to Dustin Poirier. He’s bulked up in his time away from the sport and filmed the remake of the 1989 moving Road House. With everything McGregor has going on outside of the cage and the procedure for re-entering the USADA testing pool, Felder isn’t confident that we’ll see McGregor in the octagon this year.
“I think he’ll always matter, as long as he’s at least teasing the idea of a return but that’s what worries me,” Felder said during an appearance on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “He’s so busy. He’s filming Road House and all that kind of stuff. I don’t know if that is over or not. It’s tough. You’re on yachts. You’ve got mansions. You’ve got all this stuff. You’ve got businesses that you’re working on. You’re coming back from a huge injury. You take yourself out of the USADA testing pool. You’ve got to wait to get back in it. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’re going to see him in 2023. To be completely honest with you.”
In the time McGregor has been away from the sport, the sport has moved on without him. The last title McGregor held was the lightweight championship. He was stripped of the belt in 2018 due to inactivity without having defended it. Felder believes the 155-pound division has ‘badly’ passed McGregor by.
“I don’t mean this in any disrespect, but I do think the division is just passing him by badly,” Felder said. “I think it’s passing a lot of us. I’m older than him by a few years at least but this next generation of fighters, if you’re not in there mixing it up with them and on the mats with those types of dudes every day — I know he’s training, but he’s going to have to definitely hope for fights like Michael Chandler, who’s a beast but those are the guys you can still compete with. You don’t want to be fighting Arman Tsarukyan or [Mateusz] Gamrot or these young, hungry absolute maniacs that are working their way up the division.”
If McGregor does eventually return, it will likely be in the welterweight division.