‘I just want the date’ — Conor McGregor blasts UFC amid uncertainty for return to octagon

Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor has voiced his frustration with the UFC amid a prolonged delay in his return to the octagon.

The former two-division champion has been absent from the cage since breaking his leg in a trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier in July 2021. Originally slated to face Michael Chandler in December, McGregor's return was postponed due to his refusal to enter the drug-testing pool.

After finally entering the pool in October, McGregor is set to regain eligibility for competition on April 8, 2024. However, McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, said in November that the fighter wouldn't return until the summer. "The Notorious," once a major draw for the promotion, lamented the unprecedented treatment he's receiving.

"Give me something. It was supposed to be April, (and before) it was supposed to be December. They never treated anyone – no one has ever been treated (like this) for all the figures I've brought in this game," said McGregor at Saturday's Day of Reckoning boxing event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"I've been kept from my living for almost three years now," he said. "This is my job. It's beyond frustrating. … I just want the date. Give me the date, please. That's it. … I'm waiting, I'm waiting and I'm waiting. My patience is wearing thin."

UFC president Dana White has yet to provide any update on McGregor's return, saying he "got nothing on either one of those guys right now." Meanwhile, Chandler has shifted his focus to a potential matchup with Nate Diaz.

McGregor challenges Manny Pacquiao

Desperate for a booking, McGregor issued a challenge to boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. In a clip captured by TNT Sports, McGregor discussed the prospect of the bout with Saudi Arabia's minister of entertainment, Turki Alalshikh.

"How about me vs. Manny here in Saudi," McGregor said. "How does that sound? Now, wouldn't you think Manny should have to come up to my weight? Considering it's his sport. Would you think that's what a man would do versus what a mouse would do?"

McGregor also claimed that Pacquiao owes him eight million dollars due to a legal dispute over a breached contract when Pacquiao was signed to McGregor's management company, Paradigm Sport. The $5.1 million accounted for violating a contractual agreement, with an additional $2 million in legal fees contributing to the total mentioned by the Irish fighter.

"Tell Manny to grow a set of balls and fight me at a higher weight class," he said. "Why not? It's his sport. If he wants me to come down to a smaller weight, I should be able to use more of my weapons. I should be able to kick. I should be able to grapple. Shouldn't that be fair?"

McGregor, whose sole professional boxing match resulted in a stoppage defeat to ring legend Floyd Mayweather in 2017, has long expressed interest in fighting Pacquiao. The Filipino ring veteran retired two years ago after clinching world titles in eight weight divisions.

Meanwhile, McGregor's MMA activity has been limited in the past years, with just four fights since his 2016 UFC lightweight title victory over Eddie Alvarez. His MMA record includes a win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in 2020, a title loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in 2018 and back-to-back stoppage losses to Poirier in 2021.