Conor McGregor Off UFC 303

Will the bout pitting Conor McGregor against Michael Chandler ever take place?

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UFC 303 moves on from Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor is no longer fighting at UFC 303. His opponent, Michael Chandler, is also off the card.

The June 29 pay-per-view is now headlined by Alex Pereira defending his light heavyweight championship in a rematch against Jiri Prochazka. And while that was the most significant change, there were others–the bout pitting Jamahal Hill against Khalil Rountree Jr. has been officially replaced by Anthony Smith vs. Carlos Ulberg, and there is a new co-main in Brian Ortega against Diego Lopes.

The 303 card now is deeper, but lacking the star power that only McGregor brings.

UFC CEO Dana White also announced a change for next weekend’s card in Saudi Arabia. Due to a reported illness, Khamzat Chimaev is off the card–and he is replaced by Ikram Aliskerov, who was supposed to fight Antonio Trocoli tomorrow. Instead, Aliskerov gets the type of high-profile bout he has been seeking, matching up against Robert Whittaker.

The question now revolves around what happens to McGregor. Chandler has effectively sold his soul for this bout, sacrificing the past year-and-a-half of his career for a fight that has yet to materialize.

There was foreshadowing that this bout would be taken off the 303 card when McGregor’s June 3 press conference in Dublin was canceled. That was intended to be a major event hyping McGregor’s return to the Octagon, so it was hard not to be suspicious when it suddenly did not take place.

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor / Getty

Despite his well-earned reputation for controversy, McGregor has a history of making his fights and making weight. So it is unusual for him to pull out this close to the fight date, unless he is dealing with a severe injury, which his camp leaked is the case.

There is so much misdirection when it comes to McGregor. Of course, a financial dispute with the UFC remains a possibility. Over the next few weeks, McGregor will likely detail his injury. Until then, there will be constant rumor and innuendo over what really happened here.

This is all another reminder that the McGregor era in the UFC is rapidly reaching its conclusion. Since 2017, McGregor has fought four times–and won only once. His accomplishments in the sport are nothing short of iconic, but even if he does come back to fight Chandler, we are in the twilight of his MMA career.

When it comes to McGregor, there are more questions than answers. And that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.


Dakota Ditcheva carving out her place in PFL

Dakota Ditcheva
Dakota Ditcheva / PFL

Dakota Ditcheva took an important step in her PFL career last night, defeating Chelsea Hackett by TKO in the opening round of their women’s flyweight bout.

The victory assures Ditcheva (12-0) the top seed in the upcoming PFL playoffs. Stop me if you’re heard this before, but she will always be overlooked until she beats some legitimate opponents. Fortunately for her, she will have a chance to meet either Liz Carmouche or Talia Santos in the PFL finals.

Both Carmouche and Santos were also victorious last night. Santos (21-3) defeated Jena Bishop by split decision, and Bishop (7-1) is now slated to be Ditcheva’s first-round playoff opponent. Carmouche, who is the reigning Bellator flyweight champion, submitted Kana Wantanabe (13-3-1) courtesy of an arm bar with only eight seconds remaining in the third round.

If Ditcheva is the talent she thinks she is, a definitive win against Carmouche or Santos will help make her argument.


The Pick ‘Em Section

UFC Fight Night flyweight bout: Tatsuro Taira vs. Alex Perez

  • Pick: Tatsuro Taira

UFC Fight Night bantamweight bout: Miles Johns vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade

  • Pick: Miles Johns

UFC Fight Night featherweight bout: Lucas Almeida vs. Timothy Cuamba

  • Pick: Timothy Cuamba

UFC Fight Night bantamweight bout: Brady Hiestand vs. Garrett Armfield

  • Pick: Brady Hiestand

UFC Fight Night flyweight bout: Jose Johnson vs. Asu Almabayev

  • Pick: Asu Almabayev

Last week: 4-1

2024 record: 58-46


Published
Justin Barrasso

JUSTIN BARRASSO

Justin Barrasso has been writing for Sports Illustrated since 2014. While his primary focus is pro wrestling and MMA, he has also covered MLB, NBA, and the NFL. He can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.