Could the promotion fill the Aviva without the Irish superstar?
UFC top brass in Las Vegas are paying attention to the high level of demand for its events in Ireland - and still considering bringing a show to a stadium in Dublin.
When asked if demand is strong enough in Ireland for the UFC to stage a stadium show without Conor McGregor, James Elliott, the UFC's Vice-President and General Manager for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa said that a stadium could be possible without the 'Notorious' one:
"That’s not something which I considered until this point - it’s not a bad idea," he told Newstalk.com.
"We’ve sold out the two shows in Dublin in record time, even when the card was decimated through injuries in October - the fans still turned out and supported us really well. That did not go unnoticed by everybody in Vegas. We certainly understand how big the fanbase is in Ireland, and how big it could be," he added.
The UFC's last Dublin card shifted 10,000 tickets in less than two minutes.
Having a major event in Europe is complicated by the time difference between the region and the UFC's core market in the US where pay-per-view TV is the company's main source of income. Staging an event without McGregor could be one way around this problem, allowing the UFC to avoid missing out on his pay per view pull to hold the event.
Having an event at on off-peak time would be costly but Mr Elliott says that the company is working on bringing a 'numbered' premium UFC event to Europe:
"It would be a fantastic brand play for us to have a big numbered event in Europe. It’s something that we’re definitely focused on. It’s very easy for us to see what it could do for our business - we just need to convince the right people that it’s the right thing to do at the right time."
The previous UFC event to take place in Dublin sold out in 90 seconds according to the UFC. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
He added that a card featuring a fighter like Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey could "kick-start" further growth for the UFC in Europe.
"The numbers are getting closer in terms of how we could make it work, there’s still a lot of moving parts … I feel we’re not that far away, certainly within the 18-month time frame, that’s something that we’re focused on," he told Newstalk.
If a big show does come, the organisation is "doing its homework" and has actively engaged with both Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium.
"Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium are two places that we’ve looked at, we’ve made no secret about that. Conor (McGregor) has certainly made no secret about the fact that he wants to fight in Dublin. It’s something that’s on the agenda" the UFC executive said.
Although he did add that some "structural" issues would need to be addressed before an outdoor Dublin show could happen - curfews and noise restrictions are major concerns.
The UFC will stage one show in the UK or Ireland during the winter of 2016 - an announcement is due around, "September or October time."