“Who Cares What USADA Says?” — Dana White Says Conor McGregor May Still Fight This Year

Dana White, UFC
Dana White, UFC 289 pre-fight press conference Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Conor McGregor is not, as of this writing, in the USADA testing pool.

At the very least, he has yet to have submitted a documented drug testing sample under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s program in over a year, and that would, on the surface, seem to suggest a hiccup in his plans to fight Michael Chandler later this year.

However, in a recent interview with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, UFC President Dana White said it remains possible that McGregor will enter the octagon in 2023 — while being dismissive of USADA’s very public statements about McGregor being required to undergo six months of drug testing prior to returning to action.

“A hundred percent,” White replied when asked whether it remained possible that McGregor fights this year, while adding “He’s not” what questioned about whether the sport’s biggest star was back in the USADA pool.

“We’ll see how that plays out. They’re saying that now, but who knows. I don’t talk about sh*t until sh*t happens. To sit here and think hypothetically how a million different things could happen, no idea. I’m focused on what’s happening this Saturday, and the next Saturday, and—”

“UFC 300 isn’t even in my mind right now. The Conor thing, who the hell knows how that’s going to play out. Who cares what USADA says, we’ll see what happens when it happens. So I don’t know.”

McGregor, for reasons unknown, withdrew from the USADA testing pool while rehabbing the leg he broke in his rubber match with Dustin Poirier in July 2021. He has not competed since, but is current seen as a head coach on The Ultimate Fighter 31.

USADA has exclusively overseen administration of the UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy since being brought in back in 2015 to provide enhanced drug testing for the promotion’s athletes.

Last year, USADA officials went on the record with Cageside Press, confirming that while their preference was for Conor McGregor to submit to the full six month testing period required for returning athletes, the UFC and the UFC alone could choose to grant him an exemption.

While that’s somewhat like letting an alcoholic check himself out of rehab on a whim, the UFC has rarely used the exemption, with two cases primarily coming to mind. In the first, Brock Lesnar had the window waived at UFC 200 in 2016 — to disastrous effect. The former heavyweight champion, who had been back in WWE full time, later failed his drug test, though results were not returned until after the event. Lesnar’s win over Mark Hunt was overturned to a No Contest, and Hunt sued all involved.

Things went much smoother, however, when Miesha Tate had the window waived when she returned from retirement in July 2021.

Team McGregor, meanwhile, is 0-6 on TUF 31, leading to things boiling over between coaches on the most recent episode of the reality fighting series.