Conor McGregor shows off injury that had him pull out of UFC 303

MMA: UFC 246-McGregor vs Cerrone

In a significant blow to UFC International Fight Week, Conor McGregor has been forced to withdraw from his highly anticipated comeback fight against Michael Chandler at UFC 303 due to a training injury. The bout, which was set to headline the event on June 29, 2024, has been scrapped, leaving fans and the UFC scrambling for alternatives.

McGregor, who has not competed since his leg injury TKO loss to Dustin Poirier in July 2021, revealed the nature of his latest setback on social media. The 35-year-old former two-division champion disclosed that he suffered a broken pinkie toe on his left foot during a training session. The injury occurred when McGregor, not wearing full protective gear, struck his toe against an elbow, resulting in a clean break. McGregor shared X-ray images of the injury to refute rumors and speculation about his condition, particularly addressing claims made by Chael Sonnen on ESPN’s “Good Guy / Bad Guy” that McGregor was in rehab for substance use.

“We were so f—ing super ready for this fight it is absolutely gut-wrenching to take,” McGregor wrote on Instagram. “We had a lapse in concentration and engaged in a training session without wearing the full protective gear and I hit the toe off the elbow and broke the toe clean.”

Despite the injury, McGregor assured fans that his recovery would be swift, estimating only a few weeks of downtime. However, he emphasized that he could not justify competing at less than 100%, leading to his decision to withdraw from the fight. McGregor also revealed that he has two fights remaining on his UFC contract and expressed his determination to return to the octagon soon, whether or not his opponent is Chandler.

“The fans deserve it and we are getting close,” McGregor said. “A slight lapse in concentration and a nuisance of an injury was picked up. That’s it. Take the lesson and move forward. I will get this back. I’ve got to. I’ve got two fights left on my contract. … I’ll be back. See ya’s soon. See ya at the top. Chandler or not.”

The cancellation of McGregor vs. Chandler has left the UFC in a difficult position, as the fight was one of the most anticipated matchups of the year. UFC President Dana White and the promotion have quickly moved to reconfigure the UFC 303 card. The new main event will feature a short-notice UFC light heavyweight title rematch between Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka, with Brian Ortega vs. Diego Lopes added as the co-main event.

Michael Chandler, who has been eagerly awaiting a fight with McGregor for nearly two years since filming “The Ultimate Fighter,” now faces uncertainty regarding his next opponent. The delay in the fight has significant implications for Chandler’s career trajectory and the UFC’s promotional plans.

McGregor’s injury and subsequent withdrawal have also raised questions about his future in the sport. Turning 36 soon, McGregor has been out of competition for nearly three years, and his return timeline remains uncertain. While UFC events are scheduled through September, a realistic scenario for McGregor’s comeback could be around UFC 306 in Las Vegas if not later in the year.

Despite the setback, McGregor’s commitment to fulfilling his contract obligations and his determination to return to the octagon remains strong. For now, the focus shifts to the reconfigured UFC 303 card and the new main event, as the UFC continues to navigate the challenges posed by McGregor’s injury. The anticipation for McGregor’s return remains high, and the MMA community eagerly awaits the next chapter in the storied career of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.

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