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Exclusive: Irish MMA trio back Conor McGregor 2024 return amid Michael Chandler announcement

Irish MMA trio Nate Kelly, Nathan Kelly and John Mitchell are all confident Conor McGregor will make his return to the UFC cage in 2024.

The former two-weight UFC world champion has been out of action for two years after breaking his leg in a bout with Dustin Poirier.

McGregor took the internet by storm on New Years Eve by revealing he would make his return against Michael Chandler on June 29 in Las Vegas.

The 35-year-old revealed the fight would take place at the 185-pound weight limit – a weight McGregor has never competed at.

Despite this, a number of fellow Irish MMA fighters have backed the former world champion to make his return this year.

John Mitchell, who sparred with Mcregor in the lead up to his PFL Europe final bout with Jakub Kaszuba, told Planet Sport: “There’s nothing that man can’t do. If he’s the double champ, knocking out Jose Aldo, beating Chad Mendes, I have no doubt, if he wants to [return] he will.”

When asked about their sparring session, Mitchell added: “My fourth time sparring Conor. It’s great learning from one of the best that ever did it. Getting some great advice from him.”

Nate Kelly is another Irish native who has thrown his weight of support behind McGregor.

The teenager broke onto the scene at the age of 11 when he stole the show at one of McGregor’s UFC press conferences. At the time, Kelly grabbed the microphone and promised UFC supremo Dana White and Conor McGregor he would one day become world champion.

Kelly made his PFL debut last December, winning an amateur bout in front of a bumper crowd at Dublin’s 3Arena.

When asked about McGregor’s comeback chances, the youngster said: “Yeah, 100%. I think he’s locked in now. He’s focused, he’s training hard. I think we’ll see him soon. Hopefully in 2024, I can’t wait.”

Nathan Kelly – no relation to Nate – is another top Irish talent to back the former UFC champion.

Kelly recently improved to 9-2  after picking up a first round submission victory over Dimitry Solimeis in the main event of PFL Europe last December.

“I say he will,” Kelly told Planet Sport when asked about McGregor’s rumoured comeback. “He seems to be flat out training from what I can see on his Instagram page. He seems to have great energy.

“I want to see him fight. I’d love to see him get back in. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later because I love a Conor fight. The build-up is always brilliant. Finger crossed they can get that done so all of us MMA fans can enjoy a good night of fighting.”

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