It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Conor McGregor. But how long will Michael Chandler let that hinder his future?
Conor McGregor vs Michael Chandler Delayed…Again
Fans awaiting the return of the UFC’s biggest star were dealt another dose of disappointment today. While appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show,” company CEO Dana White declared that contrary to speculation about Conor McGregor fighting at either UFC 300 or International Fight Week on June 29, “The Notorious” will remain outside of the Octagon for at least another six months.
Even though Conor McGregor took to his social media on New Years to declare his long-awaited fight with Michael Chandler as a middleweight bout headed for the annual tentpole pay-per-view event, according to White summer will come and go without it.
By the time International Fight Week passes, we’ll be just shy of a year since the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter season that was supposed to lead into the traditional coach vs coach bout.
By comparison three of the four participants in TUF 31’s finals have fought or been booked since then. At this point White’s declaration that he’s “hoping for the fall” seems like kicking the can of disappointment further down the road.
So… when does the UFC, Chandler, and fans finally move on from this match up?
As the Octagon has become a weekly conveyor belt of fresh bodies, the need for individual stars has greatly diminished for the company. The UFC does not need Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar, or Ronda Rousey to break its own astronomical profit records.
Perhaps having an event or two in the back pocket featuring McGregor’s proven drawing power provides for an excellent bargaining chip while negotiating a new broadcast deal. But how valuable is that chip if you can’t rely on him to actually fight?
Additionally, as parent company TKO is dealing with the fallout of WWE founder Vince’s McManhon’s accused misconduct and pending federal investigation, when does McGregor’s frequent indiscretions and accusations become more of a liability?
Fans who, thanks in part to the increasing number of prematurely announced fights, already have to wonder whether buying tickets or pre-paying for a pay-per-view is worth it. Anyone of sound mind paying just a little bit of attention to McGregor will be questioning whether or not they should shell out money for plane tickets, accommodations, or ordering an event in advance.
The Price of Patience
Both the UFC and its fanbase will eventually just redirect their energy elsewhere. Whether it be Sean O’Malley, Islam Makchachev, or someone else on the roster, another golden child will emerge. And after them, the next generation will produce someone else. The same can’t be said for Michael Chandler.
While Chandler waits for his “red panty night,” time is still moving. That’s time that the soon-to-be 38-year-old simply doesn’t have. A 15-year professional career complete with an abundance of hard-fought wars probably means that the former Bellator champion doesn’t much longer in the sport.
Of course, that offers some insight into why Chandler has played the waiting game alongside McGregor. After a tremendous career he does deserve the potential massive payday and spotlight that a fight opposite of his TUF 31 rival can bring. But it isn’t his only option.
Unlike a Donald Cerrone that was clearly on a downward slope with no real title hopes by the time he faced McGregor; Chandler is still a top five lightweight that is within reach of the mountain top.
Even if you don’t favor his chances against Makchachev, the 15 months (and counting) since Chandler’s last appearance have earned him exactly zero dollars in fight purses and post fight bonuses. Although he has taken the time to pursue other business ventures, his bread and butter has been neglected. Business opportunities are likely to continue presenting themselves to Chandler, but father time is looming over his future as a prizefighter.
Even with his opponent’s misadventures, extended layoff and lack of recent wins, fighting the superstar would be the highest profile bout in an already legendary career. While it’s true that Conor McGregor’s place in MMA history is undeniable, it’s time for Michael Chandler look past the carrot dangling on the stick.