Dana White says Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler showed a ‘level of respect’ on TUF 31

By Zain Bando - May 29, 2023

Ahead of Tuesday’s first episode of TUF 31, headlined by coaches Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler on ESPN and ESPN+, UFC president Dana White said he was pleased with how the show was filmed. As it has done since 2005, the annual reality television series looks for the next generation of talent to join the UFC roster to become a world champion eventually.

Conor McGregor, Michael Chandler, UFC, TUF 31

Although McGregor, the former UFC multiple-weight world champion, and Chandler, the former UFC lightweight title challenger, have had their fair share of words over the years, White revealed the season’s filming brought out the best in both competitors and how they settled their differences.

“It was good; it was smooth,” White said. “While they’re going to fight each other, and there’s this tension [on the show leading up to it], there’s also a level of respect between those two, which makes filming a lot easier.”

Conor McGregor has familiarity with the TUF format, as he coached TUF 22 against former WEC mainstay and UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber in 2015. However, according to White, TUF 31 has higher stakes, given where both men stand in the lightweight divisional picture.

“Take all the other things off the table [TUF, “McGregor Forever”], you know what I mean,” White said. Chandler vs. McGregor is just, stylistically, such a fun fight. The fight sells itself. And then all the additional ways to get into the fight, it’s an absolute no-brainer.

Quotes transcribed via The MacLife.

Conor McGregor has been sidelined for nearly two years after suffering back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier, enduring a gruesome leg injury in the pair’s highly anticipated trilogy bout in July 2021 at UFC 264. The Irishman has not won consecutive bouts since 2016, as his last win came against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in Jan. 2020.

As for Michael Chandler, he continues to make his case for another shot at lightweight gold. The 37-year-old turned in a highlight-reel finish against Tony Ferguson in May 2022 and delivered in a back-and-forth slugfest against Poirier six months later, though he was on the wrong end of a late third-round rear-naked-choke.

At press time, neither a date nor a location has been announced, although White is hopeful the bout will happen prior to year’s end.

Which coach will emerge victorious on TUF 31 and in the Octagon, Conor McGregor or Michael Chandler? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, Penn Nation!