Abu Dhabi to host UFC’s ‘Fight Island’ bouts


Abu Dhabi UFC fight Image: UFC/Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi will stage Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC’s) historic ‘Fight Island’ in July in a groundbreaking collaboration with the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion.

UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) announced on Tuesday that the much-anticipated UFC FIGHT ISLAND events will be held on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, one of the Emirate’s most popular leisure, shopping and entertainment destinations with a sprawling complex.

UFC 251 is said to feature three championship bouts, according to UFC President Dana White, with the succeeding three events falling on July 15, July 18 and July 25. Fans will not be allowed to attend keeping in mind the restrictions placed due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

The fight festival, which will be marked with four fight nights beginning with the pay-per-view UFC 251 on July 11, will take place at an existing venue on Yas Island, which will be specifically marked ‘safe zone’ and will lodge everyone connected to the event. Du Forum has been considered as host for the bouts.

Abu Dhabi has achieved a major feat in the form of Fight Island, and signed a five-year deal with the UFC in 2019. As part of the understanding, the first event was staged in September last year with the huge hit UFC 242 with the undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov emerging as the star performer. The promotion is scheduled to return to the capital of UAE – Abu Dhabi – later this year, most likely in late October.

White informed, “We came up with the idea of having fights on ‘Fight Island’ because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic. Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past 10 years and it is the perfect place for these events.”

White added, “The infrastructure we are building will be such an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters that’s never been done before – from the arena, the private training facility, and the octagon on the island – it’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget. I can’t wait to deliver amazing fights from Yas Island.”

The event’s location was kept as a carefully guarded secret by White who conceived the idea of Fight Island in April to allow international fighters to compete during the pandemic.

Remarked Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, “Our partnership with the UFC, now in its second year, has proved to be one of our most successful ventures in recent years. Thanks to their commitment and cooperation, we are proud to announce that Abu Dhabi will host the first ever ‘Fight Island’ event, marking the long-awaited return of UFC fights to the global stage.”

He added, “We have worked closely with all Government entities in Abu Dhabi to ensure that the staging of this historic event complies with the highest standards of safety for the athletes, coaches, and all UFC personnel as well as the safety of our community. This year, Abu Dhabi has successfully proven its ability to handle all challenges and promote the well-being of its visitors and residents. And today, we are here to showcase the best that our capital has to offer, as we look forward to opening our doors once again to the world.”

In reference to UFC 251, White told mediapersons that the main card will be headlined by a welterweight title bout between champion Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. It will also include a featherweight title rematch pitting against one another belt-holder Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway, who first fought in December, together with a clash between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight crown.

Holloway tweeted an image of what appeared to be a signed contract, alongside the #FightIsland hashtag.

In the coming weeks, more details as regards the events will be revealed. DCT Abu Dhabi said that they expect to have more than 2,500 people staying on site during the event, but only those who are playing key roles to organize the event. They anticipate fighters will arrive in Abu Dhabi towards the end of this month.

Taking the current situation into consideration due to the coronavirus curse which has left the whole world shattered, DCT Abu Dhabi, along with the relevant authorities, will follow in toto the existing public health guidelines and create a bio-secure bubble around the nearly 10 square mile Yas Island.

The Yas Island is home to the Yas Arena, as well as plenty of world-class hotels. The UFC bandwagon will stay and train within Yas Island and this safety zone will only be open to them.

UFCFight Island’ events will air live on global broadcasters around the world and on Pay-Per-View in select markets. UFC events are broadcast in 172 countries and territories in 40 different languages and reach approximately one billion TV households.

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