UFC 229: McGregor's two-year journey from champion to challenger

We look at a timeline of Conor McGregor's two years away from UFC as he prepares to return against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

UFC star Conor McGregor is set to return to the octagon after two years away from the sport.   -  AP

Conor McGregor will return to the octagon after almost two years away against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on Saturday, determined to reclaim the lightweight title.

McGregor made history by becoming the first man to hold belts in two divisions simultaneously when he defeated Eddie Alvarez in November 2016, adding to his featherweight crown.

However, the 30-year-old's inactivity, while by no means out of the limelight, has since seen him stripped of both straps.

Ahead of his highly anticipated comeback, we look back at his time away from mixed martial arts.

November 2016: Steps away from UFC

McGregor revealed in the aftermath of his lightweight championship win that he would be taking a break from the sport due to the impending birth of his son.

Just a fortnight after that defeating Alvarez, he was stripped of the UFC featherweight title due to his inactivity in the division.

March 2017: Mayweather talk builds

Following weeks of speculation about a potential boxing match between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr, the latter announced he was ready to don the gloves again and take on his rival.

"I'm officially out of retirement for Conor McGregor," Mayweather told FightHype.

June 2017: Vegas bout confirmed

The fight with Mayweather was formally announced in June, with the 12-round match set for August 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

August 2017: Beaten by Mayweather

McGregor's preparations were dealt a blow at the start of August when sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi quit his camp, calling it "a circus".

The Irishman failed to deliver on his aim to finish the bout inside 10 seconds, despite putting up a brave fight before he was eventually stopped by Mayweather in the 10th round.

October 2017: Calls out Ferguson

UFC president Dana White encouraged McGregor to return to MMA after facing Mayweather, but he played down talk of a third meeting with Nate Diaz.

McGregor's sights instead appeared to be set on interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, mocking him on Instagram as a comeback appeared imminent.

November 2017: Controversy in Dublin

McGregor's return was delayed after an incident at Bellator 187, where he entered the octagon to congratulate friend Charlie Ward on his victory over John Redmond and confronted an official who attempted to remove the Irishman.

The expected fight with Ferguson consequently did not appear on the card for UFC 219.

April 2018: Loses title, more controversy

White had warned McGregor he must fight by March 2018 to retain his lightweight title and he was formally stripped of it ahead of UFC 223, where Nurmagomedov later took the belt after defeating Al Iaquinta.

McGregor was charged by police with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief after an incident prior to the event in which he was alleged to have attacked a bus containing rival fighters.

August 2018: UFC return sealed

McGregor, who agreed a plea deal for the April controversy, finally fixed a return to UFC to face Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title on October 6.

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