When Conor McGregor broke his leg during a 2021 fight, he said he immediately had some doubts about whether or not he could continue his MMA career. Those concerns, though, were quickly dashed.
McGregor, the UFC's biggest star, felt in the moments following the leg break that as long as he was willing to fight again, he would, regardless of his physical predicament, McGregor said Wednesday on "The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani."
"I'm never stopping this," McGregor said. "I'm continuing. I'll wheel out into the Octagon and scoot out into open guard [on my back] if I couldn't brace on the leg. That was in my thoughts."
McGregor cited fighters who have competed in MMA with physical disadvantages, like Nick Newell (a congenital amputee without a full left hand) and Zion Clark (born without legs due to Caudal regression syndrome). If they could do it, McGregor said, then he could, as well.
"At the time, I thought maybe I won't be able to do this again," McGregor said. "For sure, that was in my thoughts. Was I thinking of not making the walk -- or the roll if I was in a f---ing chair? Never. Where there's a will, there's a way. ... If you're willing, you're able."
McGregor, the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, sustained fractures to his left tibia and fibula in the fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in Las Vegas on July 10, 2021. He has not fought since, though he says he has made a full recovery. McGregor has said that he was already injured with stress fractures in the same leg and was wearing a walking boot during camp, taking it off for practices in which he focused on ground fighting. McGregor needed surgery on the leg following the fight and said he now has a metal bar in it.
"I'm able to kick with it," McGregor said. "I'm kicking hard, I'm kicking fast. And you best believe I'm looking to take this guy out with the steel bar in my leg, for sure."
"This guy" is likely to be Michael Chandler, who McGregor is coaching against on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. The series just wrapped filming and will begin airing in May. After the conclusion of the season, McGregor and Chandler are supposed to fight each other, though the when and where have not been determined. McGregor said Wednesday that the fight will be in the welterweight division, 170 pounds.
How soon McGregor can return has been up for debate. McGregor removed himself from the USADA drug-testing pool during his recovery. The UFC anti-doping policy states that a fighter returning to the pool must spend six months in it and pass two drug tests before competing again. However, the UFC can waive that rule if the promotion deems it to be unfair to the athlete.
The UFC has not taken an official stance on this matter, though UFC president Dana White intimated last October that McGregor would have to spend the full six months in the pool before fighting again. USADA has said several times that it believes McGregor should, indeed, be tested over six months before returning to the Octagon.
"The UFC rules are clear that, in addition to two negative tests, an athlete must make themself available for testing for six months before returning to competition," USADA said in a statement sent to ESPN. "This is a fair way to ensure an athlete does not use the retirement status to gain an unfair advantage by using prohibited substances during the retirement period, which would enhance their performance unfairly if they ultimately decide to return to competition. While the rules permit the UFC to make an exception to the six-month rule in exceptional circumstances, when the strict application of the rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete, our position, which we have made clear, is that Conor should be in the testing pool for the full six-month period."
McGregor said Wednesday that it was his belief that he only had to pass two drug tests and then he would be cleared to fight again. He said he has a meeting scheduled to discuss the situation, presumably with the UFC. USADA told ESPN that McGregor does not have a meeting set up with the agency currently.
"I'm not rushing nothing," McGregor said on The MMA Hour. "There's hurdles and whatnot. But we're in contact, we're in constant communication and there's an interview scheduled and meeting happening. And then it will be official."
The UFC did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
McGregor, though absent from competition, has still been in the news regularly. In January, the Irish fighter was struck by a car while riding a bike in his home country and said he "could've have been dead."
That same month, a report was published in a Spanish newspaper that McGregor was being investigated for attacking a woman on his yacht in Ibiza last summer. The woman dropped her lawsuit against McGregor in Ireland in February, according to newspaper reports out of the country. McGregor has vehemently denied those accusations through his team.