Conor McGregor’s bid to return to the UFC moved a step closer as he re-entered the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (Usada) testing pool.
McGregor, 35, was expected to face Michael Chandler this year, but cannot fight until he is back in the testing pool for six months.
Usada confirmed McGregor re-entered the testing pool on Sunday.
“We have been clear and firm with the UFC that there should be no exception given by the UFC for McGregor to fight until he has returned two negative tests and been in the pool for at least six months,” it said in a statement.
“The rules also allow Usada to keep someone in the testing pool longer before competing based on their declarations upon entry in the pool and testing results.”
However, Usada’s statement also claimed that UFC had decided not to renew its contract, meaning the organisation would no longer be involved in the UFC anti-doping programme from 1 January 2024.
Usada said that meant “we do not currently know whether the UFC will ultimately honour the six-month or longer requirement” for McGregor to be in the testing pool.
American fighter Chandler appeared on the UFC’s reality TV series The Ultimate Fighter with McGregor earlier this year.
Traditionally, the coaches of the show fight each other, but the bout between Chandler and McGregor has been delayed after it emerged McGregor was not being tested.
The UFC’s decision to remove him from the testing pool caused controversy, as Usada’s rules state a fighter is only removed from testing if they “retire, have their contracts terminated or are removed from the pool”.
The two-weight UFC champion suggested he exited the pool to focus on recovering from the leg break, which was an option not previously open to fighters recovering from serious injuries.
Asked when McGregor might make his return to action, White said: “I literally have nothing planned with Conor McGregor right now.
“The paperwork is being submitted. We’ll play it by ear, see how things work out.
“There’s still a lot of things that have to happen as far as fights go. Then we’ll see where he’s going to land.”
With UFC 300 fast approaching in 2024, Chandler said recently he believed he and McGregor could headline that landmark event for the MMA promotion.