Conor McGregor’s eagerly anticipated trilogy bout against Dustin Poirier this summer will take place in Las Vegas, it was confirmed on Wednesday.
UFC president Dana White announced on social media that UFC 264, to be headlined by McGregor-Poirier 3 on July 10, is set to take place in front of 20,000 spectators at a capacity T-Mobile Arena, which last hosted the lead mixed martial arts organisation in March last year.
McGregor and Poirier will meet for a third time following their marquee clash at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi in January, when the American avenged his 2014 defeat to even the rivalry. The pair had only this week been embroiled in a high-profile spat on Twitter, with McGregor then claiming the fight was off.
However, in a video posted on the platform on Wednesday, White said: “I am so happy to finally say Vegas is back. This summer, Las Vegas is back open for business and on July 10th UFC 264 will be at the T-Mobile Arena here in Vegas at 100 per cent capacity.
"Ladies and gentlemen, that’s 20,000 fans, and this fight will be headlined by the third fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.”
Although both McGregor and Poirier had already agreed in principle to the trilogy at UFC 264, the UFC had yet to confirm.
The jousting on Twitter had seemed to throw the bout into some doubt, with a dispute regarding a $500,000 donation from McGregor to Poirier's charity prompting an expletive-laden exchange from the former two-division world champion.
Still the sport’s biggest draw, and well known more recently for his philanthropic work, McGregor had promised in the build-up to UFC 257 that he would contribute significantly to Poirier’s "Good Fight Foundation".
In one of his less-explosive posts on Monday, McGregor tweeted: "A donation, not a debt. We've been awaiting the plans for the money that never came. 500k with no plan in place. The fight is off... I'm going to fight someone else on the 10th."
A number of lightweights quickly threw their name into the hat to replace Poirier, including Michael Chandler, former champion Rafael dos Anjos and Kevin Lee. However, Wednesday’s announcement ended their chances.
Poirier, a former lightweight interim belt-holder, triumphed at Etihad Arena in January by second-round TKO – the first time McGregor had been knocked out in his professional career. The Dublin-born fighter prevailed in the pair’s first encounter, via a first-round TKO, at UFC 178.
A third meet will no doubt be one of the highest-earning pay-per-view events of the year, perhaps even in UFC history. The consensus is that McGregor faces a make-or-break bout as he seeks to eventually regain the lightweight crown, which was last month vacated officially by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Although 22-5 in professional mixed martial arts and 10-3 in the UFC, McGregor has lost three of his past six appearances in the octagon, including two of his most recent three.
Speaking immediately following his defeat to Poirier (27-6 MMA, 19-5 UFC) at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, McGregor said: “I’ll certainly regroup, pick myself up, get up off the floor and go again. Styles make fights. There’s many great stylistic match-ups out there: Dustin and me are one-and-one, myself and Nate [Diaz] are one-and-one.
“I’ve a lot more weapons, [which] I didn’t get to show. It wasn’t my night. But, again, no excuses. Hat’s off. I’m looking forward to going back now and seeing the kids, and just take my licks.
“I’m not that upset, which is another weird one for me. I put in an immense amount of work, I gave it my all. I’ll regroup for sure. I’m a different man, but the competitive fire is still in me. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.”
McGregor is currently spending time with his family in Dubai. On Tuesday, he tweeted that he was "honoured to be spending Ramadan in the UAE this year" and wished "Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim friends and fans".