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Conor McGregor, Michael Chandler, and Dana White on season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
The Ultimate Fighter

Conor McGregor And Michael Chandler Talk TUF 31

The Ultimate Fighter 31 Coaches Conor McGregor And Michael Chandler Discuss Coaching Against One Another, What They Are Looking Forward To, And More

With coaches Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler at the helm, there is no doubt that The Ultimate Fighter season 31 on ESPN is going to be must-see TV.

It won’t be completely new territory for McGregor, who coached TUF back in 2015, opposite Team Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber. That season was full of impressive fights, trash talk, and drama, and it’s safe to expect more of the same once those TUF jerseys go on.

Chandler has always had coaching TUF in the back of his mind, but getting to do it opposite McGregor is the best-case scenario. He gets to clash mentally with “The Notorious” and gets to understand him on a different level before the two collide in the Octagon later this year.

Conor McGregor Talks TUF
Conor McGregor Talks TUF

Having two coaches of this magnitude raises the stakes and puts eyeballs on the sixteen athletes looking to punch their ticket to the UFC.

This season, the athletes represent two divisions - bantamweight and lightweight. They are also broken into two other unique classifications – newcomers and former UFC fighters.

Bringing in new fighters trying to achieve their dream to face veteran fighters trying to make it back to the top provides season 31 with an intensity that can only be matched by its coaches, who will give them the best advice possible to thrive on the show.

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“I’ll do my best. It’s only four weeks. I’m not going to baby no one,” McGregor told “World champions do not need their hands held, so I’m going to guide them and, like I said, let them out of the trap. It’s up to them whether they catch the hare.”

“I got eight heartbeats on my team. Eight athletes who I have the opportunity and the blessing to coach and I’m not going to take it lightly,” Chandler told “Some who get their one last shot to make it into the UFC and some who have been looking at the bright lights from afar and now they get their opportunity. This is on ESPN the network for twelve episodes straight.”

Michael Chandler Talks TUF
Michael Chandler Talks TUF

McGregor expects this go-round of coaching to be a little different, especially since in 2015, he was coming almost immediately off of defeating Chad Mendes to win the interim UFC featherweight title.

“I’ll certainly add to what I’ve learned since that time,” McGregor said. “Also, it’ll be different because I’ll be getting involved in the practice my own self, as where the last time, I was coming out of a heavy bout with a gash on the eye; I had just won the featherweight world title. This time, I’m beginning to build into my own camp, so it’s going to be good all around.”

MEET TUF 31 CAST: Mando Gutierrez | Cody Gibson | Rico DiSciullo | Hunter Azure | Nate Jennerman | Kurt Holobaugh | Jason Knight | Austin Hubbard | Trevor Wells | Carlos Vera | Brad Katona

He’ll be building that camp to face Chandler, who has been busy in the Octagon since coming to the UFC. Chandler’s strength of schedule so far has been insane. He’s faced Dan Hooker, Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, and Dustin Poirier. All beasts.

And now he’s determined to beat McGregor at everything they do this year.

“I want to go out there and leave no question that I’m better than Conor McGregor in every single aspect of this entire endeavor,” Chandler said. “From TUF, the finale, all the way to us fighting later this year.”

Before The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Chandler (Preview Show) | ESPN MMA
Before The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Chandler (Preview Show) | ESPN MMA

“I already talked these guys, and I promised them that I want this more than the other team wants it. I want these guys to win more than that other coaching staff even can scratch the surface of the passion that I have for my guys, their fights, their training sessions, this experience, this opportunity.”

McGregor believes Chandler is a worthy adversary and is excited that the two are tasked with inspiring these sixteen fighters to reach new heights.

“I’m looking forward to coaching against Michael,” McGregor said. “He’s a good lad. He’s been respectful of me. He’s put on some good fights in the game, and he’s got a call for it. I’m happy to come in here and coach against him.

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“It’s great to be back here giving back to the sport, bringing in this next wave of fighters. Inspiring, motivating, coaching, and having a bit of fun and, also, preparing for my own bout. It’s great to be back.”

One crucial point that McGregor plans to make very clear to his team is that this opportunity is once in a lifetime. This is their chance to show the world what they’ve got and to impress each step of the way, and they get to do it on ESPN and in front of Dana White.

“To hear that it’s going live on ESPN is huge, so I will, for sure, let the young athletes in this competition know this also,” McGregor said. “Like I said, it’s dogs in the cage we’re looking for here. People that are going out to get it. I’m just here to give them a little push along the way.”