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Conor McGregor appears determined to make 2022 his comeback year. McGregor returns are often muddled by proclamations and  long delays. In the aftermath of UFC 264, however, McGregor is champing at the bit to strap on his MMA gloves once again.

Critics may argue that McGregor's star power has diminished in light of his recent setbacks, but "The Notorious" one remains a foundational pay-per-view draw for the UFC. Every McGregor fight will draw, but they will not all draw equally.

Let's take a look at where things are with McGregor's next UFC fight, and who he may stand opposite in 2022.

How will Conor McGregor get the leg up on his competition

McGregor has experienced major turbulence over the last four years. Once a two-division UFC champion, McGregor has lost three of his last four fights and suffered a broken tibia in his last outing against Dustin Poirier. Fortunately for McGregor, his early investment in the cage and on the microphone have permanently established him among combat sports' biggest draws.

McGregor can cruise through the rest of his UFC career picking up big paydays, but the Irishman still possesses ironclad self-belief. McGregor appears keen on a UFC return in 2022, one that will scrub any doubts that he is a top player on fight night.

Where things stand with Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz

The two most lucrative return fights for McGregor are these bitter rivals. UFC president Dana White called for a fourth fight between Poirier and McGregor in the immediate aftermath of UFC 264. On the other hand, McGregor and Diaz are tied at 1-1 in their series and a third fight is always accessible if all parties can agree upon terms. In McGregor's absence, everyone appears keen on matching up Poirier and Diaz with each other. Unfortunately, something appears to be getting in the way of progress and that may create an opening for McGregor to step in.

What other names could be on the table?

Michael Chandler: The former Bellator lightweight champion has quickly established himself as an all-action, fan favorite, and Chandler has repeatedly called for a fight with McGregor. No easy test, a victory over Chandler would reaffirm McGregor as a legitimate top-five fighter in the UFC lightweight division. Timelines may not add up as White is eyeing a fight between Chandler and Tony Ferguson.

Tony Ferguson: Speaking of the former UFC interim lightweight champion, Ferguson's downslide in recent years has analysts thinking a McGregor match would be appropriate for both parties. A combined 1-5 since 2020, Ferguson vs. McGregor would give each man a small step down in competition that may be sorely needed.

Expected date to return

Dana White has his eyes on a summer 2022 return for McGregor. The UFC boss told TMZ Sports on Jan. 24 that McGregor is making good progress on rehabbing his knee and hopes to see the former two-division champion compete midway through the year.