Conor McGregor says news about his next opponent and fight date are imminent, and the hope for his immediate future is to cut out the long breaks in between bouts.
At a news conference Wednesday in Ukraine, McGregor made it seem like the details have been hammered out between him and the UFC, and that his next fight just needs to be made official publicly. The former two-division UFC champion is currently on a promotional tour in Eastern Europe for a sponsor, the Russian betting website Parimatch.
"We're very close to announcing it, not just yet," McGregor said of his next fight. "But surely over the course of this trip we should have an announcement. That's what we're aiming for."
Sources told ESPN's Brett Okamoto that the UFC and McGregor have been actively discussing options for his return but an official announcement on specific date and opponent is not imminent at this time.
McGregor, 31, has not fought since a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a lightweight title fight at UFC 229 in October 2018. Prior to that, McGregor had not fought in the UFC since 2016. The Irishman said the inactivity has not been his fault, but due to "outside influences" and "the politics in prizefighting." McGregor said he'd prefer to go on a run of bouts, beginning with this next fight.
"I used to fight every couple of weeks, really, before the UFC came, then it was every couple of months," he said. "Now the politics of the prize got involved, and it's almost, I fight one and then I go off. I do not like that. You can't be like that in this game. I must continue.
"Consistency is another word. You must be consistent. Once we get past the politics of this, I will continue to go. I've had very little damage inside the Octagon. So I'm eager to get going and continue. Like if I look at the run I had up to Eddie Alvarez, when I won the second world title, it was consecutive bouts ... bout, bout bout. So I went into that Eddie Alvarez fight sharp and aware, fully prepared. And what happened that night was one of the greatest performances in any title fight ever in the UFC. So that's what we're looking to continue on the next time."
McGregor (21-4) said he wanted to fight former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in December, but the UFC was not interested. UFC president Dana White said publicly that he felt the bout didn't make sense. Edgar had announced that he would be moving down to bantamweight, two divisions below where a McGregor bout would take place. McGregor said he even offered to put his entire purse up for charity for a potential Edgar fight.
"They were saying we won't make enough money on the Frankie fight," McGregor said. "I was like, I don't care. Don't worry about me. Give my purse to charity. But for whatever reason it's being made difficult. But like I said, we're almost there. It's never easy with this crowd."
In addition to Edgar, McGregor said he proposed other names and dates to the UFC, but they did not come together. McGregor added that he is considering a charity MMA bout in December since the UFC likely won't book him before 2020.
"I just want to compete now," McGregor said. "I was trying to get on the Dec. 14 card. For whatever reason, they've been holding me back. I'm giving them dates. I'm saying I want to fight this date, this date, this date in a row. And we had opponents selected and everything and they're just making it very difficult for me for whatever reason.
"So now I'm kind of in a position where I'm attempting to set up an event, a charity event. I've done this before in my hometown, but I've done it as an amateur boxing event in my old boxing club. But I want to do it in mixed martial arts competition, also. Create an event, find an opponent, compete, zero prize. I do not care about the prize. The prize is in my home. I have five prizes in my home that I seek to get; I got them. I just want to compete now. I want to come back, I want to get sharp, I want to show the best of myself, and continue to climb. That's what I'm seeking to do, so we're looking to do that some time in December. Hopefully have a charity mixed martial arts event for zero prize, the prize will go to charity."
During his time off from the Octagon, McGregor has faced several legal issues. He was arrested in March for allegedly smashing a man's cellphone outside a Miami hotel and charged with assault for punching a man inside a Dublin bar. Per New York Times reports, McGregor is also under investigation in Ireland in two instances of alleged sexual assault.