The last time Conor McGregor fought in Las Vegas for UFC 229, he was involved in a famous post-fight brawl with opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov’s team.
He also helped generate $86.4 million for the Las Vegas metropolitan area, according to a 2018 economic impact study from Ultimate Fighting Championship and Applied Analysis.
McGregor will enter the cage Saturday in Las Vegas for UFC 246 to face off against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Experts expect to see millions of dollars follow his return.
“We certainly believe this event is going to be as significant as UFC 229,” said Lawrence Epstein, chief operating officer for UFC.
McGregor’s fight against Nurmagomedov had the largest economic impact from a single UFC event, according to the report.
The fight had more than 20,000 attendees and made nearly $17.2 million in ticket revenue — both records for UFC in Las Vegas. That created about $1.4 million in ticket taxes and Nevada Athletic Commission fees, according to the report.
Epstein expects the fight this weekend to do just as well.
“The common denominator … is Conor McGregor,” he said. “He’s a major global star. He brings fans to Las Vegas from around the world.”
About half of the attendees at UFC 229 had an annual household income of at least $100,000, and nearly two-fifths spent more than $2,000 on nongaming activities in Las Vegas during their stay, according to the report. Total nongaming taxes collected from visitor spending hit $1.8 million.
Brian Gordon of Applied Analysis said UFC attendees tend to stay longer and spend about 2½ times as much as the typical Las Vegas visitor.
“This premium guest profile translates into positive economic activity for resorts, restaurants, retailers, and other service providers in the local market,” Gordon said.
The event will have a longstanding positive effect on the city long after the winner is announced, according to Epstein. He said the UFC creates positive impressions of Las Vegas by broadcasting iconic views of the Strip to more than a billion households around the world.
“Every time we do an event from Las Vegas, integrated into the broadcast are shots of the Las Vegas Strip, information about what’s going on at nightclubs, restaurants — all the exciting things Las Vegas has to offer,” Epstein said.
The sold-out event will take place Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, surrounded by hotels like the Park MGM, New York-New York and Excalibur.
Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon expects these properties to see an increase in foot traffic, but said casinos that target VIP players — even those farther down the Strip — could see a quarterly gaming revenue boost from the fight.
The Applied Analysis report found visitors contributed $500,000 toward gaming-related taxes during UFC 229.
“There’s a lot of whales who come in,” Beynon said. “Visitors who come for sports historically skew towards those who spend a significant amount in gaming.”