‘UFC events in Abu Dhabi a roaring success’


UFC Abu Dhabi August 2020 Image: UFC

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Senior Vice-President David Shaw has termed the UFC’s inaugural Fight Island events in Abu Dhabi as “one of the most important moments in the promotion’s history”.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is an American mixed martial arts promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is owned and operated by Endeavor Group Holdings along with Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital via Zuffa, LLC.

With the series having concluded recently with UFC Fight Night 3 – following four events across a two-week period at Yas Island’s Flash Forum, Shaw described the concept as “absolutely a win”, further noting, “when we look back at the Fight Island experience after five or 10 years, we are going to say this was one of the most important moments in UFC’s history”.

“In my view this is one of the most progressive and ambitious endeavors we have ever undertaken. This will have a long-lasting impact not only for our brand, but for the sport. This is a pretty important catalyst that’s going to help propel mixed martial arts in the region for many years to come.” Shaw maintained.

“So great success all round. I believe our partners, the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, believe so as well. But overall, from (UFC President) Dana (White) all the way to our groups, everyone feels this was a massive success. It took a hell of a lot of work to get Fight Island together – many months of planning and execution – and we couldn’t have done it without our partners at the Abu Dhabi Government,” the top official added.

Commencing on July 12th with UFC 251, Fight Island events were staged in an 11-kilometer safe zone, with more than 2,000 people on site. More than 17,000 COVID-19 tests were said to have been conducted.

Shaw said that the event may be staged again as there has been an “extension” of the five-year deal signed between the Abu Dhabi Government and the UFC.

Shaw told mediapersons, “Given the current state of the coronavirus in the US and many countries around the world, travel restrictions are not our friend. We’re going to continue to look at opportunities around the world. Perhaps it makes sense to come back, but we’re not resting our laurels on this as the only opportunity. There has to be other opportunities for us.”

“You need a very committed and willing partner, you need a partner that is going to invest in the operational and the infrastructure to make it happen. As stringent and rigorous as the testing procedures are, those don’t exist everywhere, so we’ve got to make these decisions very carefully as we look to other options,” he said.

The UFC will relocate back to its base in the US City of Las Vegas until midway through September at least, with ongoing shows planned for next month.

Media reports had earlier put it that all the UFC’s main international fixtures would take place in Abu Dhabi for the near future.

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