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Dana White willing to sacrifice UFC live gate for coronavirus shows ... except for Conor McGregor

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UFC 229: Press Conference Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White recently told the combat sports media that he didn't need a crowd to put on live mixed martial arts (MMA) events during COVID-19 and didn’t plan on having a live gate for the foreseeable future.

Which means we may not see Conor McGregor for the foreseeable future, either.

Probably because “Notorious” is the biggest star in UFC and that translates to the biggest gate, as well as the most pay-per-view (PPV) buys. McGregor currently holds four of the top five records in both categories.

“Is there any level of fight that I wouldn’t give up the gate on? It’s tough to give up on a Conor McGregor gate,” White admitted during the UFC 249 media scrum (watch it here). “It’s tough to do. You do a Conor McGregor fight in the right place, you can do an $18 million gate. That’s a big number to give up.”

The UFC 229 main event, which featured McGregor’s loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, raked in a staggering $17.2 million gate in Las Vegas, second only to his UFC 205 championship win over Eddie Alvarez in New York ($17.7 million).

The promotion is expected to stage three upcoming events in Jacksonville, Florida, including UFC 249, before returning to APEX facility in Las Vegas, where it will continue to run fights without crowds. How long that continues largely depends on how much longer the coronavirus pandemic maintains the current ban on public gatherings.