BOSTON — There is still a possibility for Conor McGregor‘s return to the UFC before the end of the year.

Michael Chandler, McGregor’s would-be opponent in his comeback, said Saturday that he has spoken to the UFC twice in the past two days and that he was told the window for a bout in December has not closed. McGregor has mentioned December several times as the timing for his next fight. The UFC has not yet booked a main event for its pay-per-view that month, which would be UFC 296.

“I talked to Hunter Campbell less than 48 hours ago,” Chandler said backstage at UFC 292, referring to the UFC chief business officer. “It’s a constant moving target. I do think December isn’t out of the question. By the end of the year isn’t out of the question.”

Chandler did add that he wasn’t sure how likely December would be and he’s still in the dark about anything firm.

UFC president Dana White, when asked Saturday night about a potential McGregor-Chandler bout, said it would probably happen next year, but added, “Why not December? Who the f— knows? We’ll see how this thing plays out.”

There has been some confusion about McGregor’s status with regard to USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, and how that could affect when he’ll be back in the Octagon.

The UFC’s policy is that a fighter who left the drug-testing pool, like McGregor has, must be back in the pool for six months and pass two drug tests before competing again. In May, USADA released a statement saying that it expected McGregor’s paperwork that would enter him back into the pool immediately. Since then, there has been radio silence from the agency regarding McGregor. USADA declined to comment on the matter when reached by ESPN on Friday.

Despite that rule, there is language in the UFC’s anti-doping policy that would allow the UFC to waive those six months if there is a belief that it would be unfair to the fighter. McGregor removed himself from the drug-testing pool while he was recovering from a broken leg he suffered in a July 2021 fight with Dustin Poirier. The UFC has not said whether it would waive that six-month rule.

USADA has said publicly that it believes McGregor should spend the full six months in the pool before his comeback fight. But ultimately, it’s the UFC’s call.

If McGregor does not return in December, a likely landing point for his big return would be UFC 300 next spring. Chandler said he’s willing to wait for that card to fight McGregor, which would be one of the biggest in promotion history.

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