Michael Chandler responds after Conor McGregor pulls out of long-awaited UFC 303 fight

The biggest loser of Conor McGregor pulling out of UFC 303 wasn't McGregor, it was the guy who waited more than a year and a half to fight him.

That person is Michael Chandler, a popular lightweight who is suddenly facing the prospect of losing out on what would have likely been the most lucrative fight of his MMA career. His last fight was a loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 281 in November 2022.

Chandler responded to McGregor's withdrawal due to injury on Friday in the form of a joint Instagram post with sponsor MegaFit Meals. So at least he's getting some money from this.

The full reaction:

@thenotoriousmma was never the safe bet as an opponent, he was always the highest risk. Maybe the highest reward… but the biggest opportunity. There is no right or wrong in business… you only take risk to grow, or remain comfortable where you are.

Embrace the uncertainty.

See the opportunity.

Take calculated risk…

That’s what @mikechandlermma does.

And if it doesn’t go as planned... redirect the course to something even greater.

Our respect to the man who represents the fight world better than anyone we’ve ever known. NO FEAR. NO LIMITS. NO EXCUSES.

Make hard work your passion - who cares who’s on the other side of the punch 👊

Chandler proceeded to post like normal again later Friday, with a caption ending in "See you at the top!"

It's really hard to overstate just how badly agreeing to fight McGregor has worked out for the 38-year-old Chandler. Given his popularity, nearly any fighter near McGregor's weight would jump at the chance to be his first opponent in more than three years, and Chandler was the pick once he and McGregor were selected as the coaches for "The Ultimate Fighter" last February.

It took more than a year just for the UFC to set a fight date, as the promotion kept waiting for McGregor to enter the USADA testing pool. The UFC finally abandoned USADA in October, but negotiations continued while McGregor promoted his Hollywood debut in Jake Gyllenhaal's "Road House" remake.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 13:   (L-R) Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler face off during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter at UFC APEX on March 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Michael Chandler has been waiting for more than a year for Conor McGregor to step into the Octagon. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Even as rumors about McGregor were swirling last week after he pulled out of a UFC 303 news conference, Chandler and the promotion were still out there promoting the fight. That included this very unfortunate fact, and resultant community note, posted hours before McGregor withdrew.

Quite a few people believe Chandler should just move on now, including UFC commentator Daniel Cormier. Whether he does likely depends on how quickly the UFC can figure out another date for McGregor.