FILE - Conor McGregor poses during a ceremonial weigh-in for the UFC 246 mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas, in this Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, file photo. The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021, when Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor fight for the third time. UFC President Dana White announced his plan Wednesday, April 14, 2021, for the promotion's first sellout show in its hometown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

UFC plans full Vegas crowd in July at Poirier-McGregor fight

The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on July 10 when Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor fight for the third time.

UFC President Dana White announced his plan Wednesday for the promotion’s first sellout show in its hometown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am so happy to finally be able to say Vegas is back,” White said.

The world’s biggest mixed martial arts organization hasn’t fought in front of more than a few dozen fans in Las Vegas since the start of the pandemic. For the past 11 months, the UFC has held its near-weekly shows in its empty gym on its corporate campus in Vegas or at Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island, where limited crowds were allowed in January.

Earlier this week, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state aims to lift the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions in the next few weeks with a goal of fully reopening by June 1.

White said the UFC wouldn’t fight again in front of fans until the promotion could have full-capacity crowds in the stands, and that move is happening soon. The UFC’s next two pay-per-view shows will be held in front of full arenas in Florida and Texas.

UFC 261 in Jacksonville on April 24 will be the promotion’s first show before a full crowd since March 2020. The card is headlined by three title fights, including welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s rematch with Jorge Masvidal.

The promotion likely will continue to hold its smaller weekly shows at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker fights Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of the Apex’s next show on Saturday night.

UFC 264 will be headlined by the completion of the trilogy for Poirier and McGregor, the most popular fighter in MMA. McGregor won their first meeting in 2014, but Poirier stopped McGregor in the second round at UFC 257 in January.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/Sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Greg Beacham, The Associated Press

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