The UFC has a history of huge fight announcements being leaked before they are ready. Ariel Helwani revealed the Brock Lesnar UFC 200 news and got kicked out of the venue for it, and last year the T-Mobile Arena accidentally projected the Jon Jones title fight on the side of their building.
So it wouldn't be a total suprise that UFC Fight Pass might have just accidently revealed a massive fight.
On Sunday a screenshot from a UFC Fight Pass event page appears to have a live countdown to UFC 296 which is headlined by Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler. And then picked up extra steam when McGregor himself shared it.
FanSided MMA reached out to UFC and Michael Chandler for comment but at press time had not received a confirmation or denial of the event.
This event was something that seemed to be targeted from the start, and McGregor has been asking for December for a while. But he recently revealed that he was not going to fight on that date as planned.
“They’re not going to let me fight in December, ladies and gentlemen,” McGregor said in a series of audio notes on X. “You’ve seen Chris Weidman (at UFC 292). Imagine what that injury is. I feel like I’m being kept from my livelihood, and I’ve been feeling this for years. I’m not going to air grievances. I’m going to buoy down and soldier on. I’m ready. I wanted an announcement for (UFC 296 on) Dec. 16. I’ve given everything. So, it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.”
Both Chandler and UFC president Dana White said the fight wouldn't happen by December, but perhaps things have changed since then?
“That whole situation is very interesting to me,” Chandler said during a UFC 292 interview. (h/t MMA Fighting.) “I’ve got a lot of different thoughts on it. Ultimately, I signed with the organization September of 2020 and I could have fought October of 2020. So this whole, he retired so he’s got to take six months to come back, I mean, are we splitting hairs here? What are we talking about?
Here's the full screenshot of the UFC Fight Pass UFC 296 countdown page
One of the biggest hold-ups at the moment is if McGregor will have a USADA exemption. If this fight is real, it seems as though he will. Normally, fighters are required to enter the USADA testing pool for six months before returning to competition, which McGregor has yet to do.
The last we heard of communication between USADA AND McGregor was in May.
“We have recently been in direct contact with Conor McGregor, and as he confirmed today in the media, we expect to receive his paperwork coming out of retirement and re-entering the USADA testing pool immediately,” USADA wrote in a statement in early May. “Like other athletes who come out of retirement, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, McGregor will be subject to testing for at least six months and must provide at least two negative samples before being permitted to compete. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that all athletes who are not subject to a period of testing are adequately tested over a reasonable period of time before competing to ensure a level playing field for all athletes.”
Bottom line is there's not a definitive answer, yet, if this is real or just another big "mistake." We're working on getting to the bottom of it and we;ll update when we learn more information.