Conor McGregor says he’s “almost back” and aims to return to the UFC octagon in July as he speeds up his recovery from a broken leg.
McGregor’s competitive future was in doubt after sustaining the injury in a trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier in July 2021, but the Irishman fully expects to return to his career.
McGregor, appearing at Friday’s Bellator 275 in Dublin, told Severe MMA: “Day after day I feel better. They tell me to take it easy, but I feel like I can go. I feel like I have to. pulling the reins on myself so that’s kinda what I’m doing…I’m happy about that I’m almost back and that’s it.
The 33-year-old believes he can be back in action by April, with the UFC’s annual International Fight Week on July 2 in Las Vegas as the potential return date.
McGregor hinted that if Charles Oliveira holds off on his UFC lightweight championship defense against Justin Gaethje in May, the pair could fight in the July defense.
“Maybe if your man [Oliveira] is wise, he might give it another month or two,” McGregor said. “July seems OK to me. I can’t say, too soon. But July, if I train in April, May, June, July, I could slap most of these guys by the end of April, you know what I’m saying? A fight could be a fight.”
McGregor has suffered back-to-back losses to Poirier in 2021, dropping to No. 9 in the lightweight rankings, but the Irishman insists there should be more respect for his name and believes other fighters are emulating his style.
“It’s time this game started giving me respect for my different fighting styles – my ground, my down shots, my up shots,” McGregor said. “No matter what happens with the leg, I go to open guard. I would go to open guard. I would play attacks from open guard.
“People are going to give me my respect for all facets of my game. Even the downstrokes, from the bottom, the elbows, the kicks.
“Even from that fight you see people trying to implement and craft them. It’s not the same. There are levels in this game. The game will understand and give me my respect for my many facets for my game.
“I’m the double champion. I went to another sport. I came back. I know it. I don’t have to prove it.
“It’s just about coming back and competing and getting myself in top shape and coming in and having fun, putting on a show for the fans. That’s it.
“Once I get the leg clear and I get that feeling when I kick a body, when I step back and feel that feeling, then I’ll be able to measure time.”