Conor McGregor is back. Following nearly a two-year layoff, "The Notorious" will return to the Octagon to coach opposite Michael Chandler on "The Ultimate Fighter" before they go head-to-head themselves. This season of TUF will debut May 30 on ESPN.
A date and location for McGregor vs. Chandler will be announced soon, but missing those details hasn't stopped stop fans or bettors from looking at odds. At the moment, oddsmakers view this fight as a pick 'em with McGregor and Chandler both listed at -110. And those odds make a ton of sense. We know that Chandler loves the spotlight and always wants to put on a show -- and that reason alone is why he isn't a bigger favorite.
In his most recent fight against Dustin Poirier, we finally saw Chandler utilizing his high-level wrestling, which gave him Round 1 and Round 2, until he gassed out. Then he got caught and was submitted by Poirier in Round 3.
Throughout his career, Chandler is willing to take one to give one and has no issue going out on his shield. For him, the question is: If he gets tagged by McGregor early on, can he recover and use his wrestling to get himself back in the fight? He showed that ability against Justin Gaethje in 2021, even though he went on to lose that bout.
I would love to say that the path to victory for Chandler is to wrestle and control the pace so he doesn't gas out, but he just doesn't have that type of mentality in him. The thrill of a potential knockout over McGregor could take over his strategy entering the bout and, most likely, will make this an exciting brawl.
For McGregor, the big question is how the layoff will treat him, and being a genuine welterweight now, how will moving down to lightweight affect his speed? Out of all the possible matchups for McGregor's return, this one makes the most sense for his style. And because of Chandler's lack of striking defense, I think McGregor will have every opportunity to utilize his precise striking to get the knockout -- especially if Chandler stays true to his word and is willing to stand in front of him and trade punches.
With the odds being even on each side, I want to see how the lines move in either direction based on the interactions between them on the show and as we get closer. I will be looking into the over/under props and lines on the fight not going the distance.
Neither of these men has great cardio, as both tend to fade near the end of Round 2 or early in Round 3. This should be an exciting fight for as long as it lasts.
Prediction: Fight does not go the distance.