UFC Fight Island set for bout extraordinaire

Video: UFC Fight Island & DCT Abu Dhabi

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Island ‘safe zone’ is all set to host the inaugural four-event series in Abu Dhabi. Strict COVID-19 protocols are in place with more than 2,500 people secluded from the outside world.

Fight Island is actually Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, a manmade island on which the UFC has previously held events. Yas Island is an island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It occupies a total land area of 2,500 ha. It is a popular leisure island and one of the top tourism projects in Abu Dhabi.

The 11-kilometre stretch on Yas Island will be in effect for the duration of the fight festival, which kicks off at Flash Forum on July 12 with the stacked, pay-per-view UFC 251. Shows follow on July 16, 19 and 26.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have put rigid rules in place to ensure the safe running of Fight Island. It is believed that the Fight Island bout will be a precursor and open the capital to yet more high-profile events being staged in the UAE later this year.

All Abu Dhabi-based event staff has been quarantining for 14 days in their hotel rooms and has undergone three COVID-19 tests thus far.

Organizers informed that the area that will lodge fighters and staff is secure and ready ahead of the two-week fight extravaganza.

The venue and competition area has been constructed by a crew of 740 and is now complete. The area has been segregated and full sanitization work is underway.

‘Mist tunnels’ have been set up at Flash Forum to sanitize everyone who enters the arena, while the octagon will be sanitized between all fights and subjected to deep cleaning each night. The other octagon, constructed at Yas Beach “for the fighters’ enjoyment”, will go through the same sanitization process.

“Over the past two weeks, we’ve been very busy building a safe and secure zone to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi and, in turn, kickstart international sport and entertainment events again,” remarked Ali Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi.

“The area of the ‘safe zone’ aims to ensure we can provide a secure environment to host elite sport, but also protect our wider Abu Dhabi community.

This event is important to us for many reasons as it allows us to begin the process of bringing back sports and tourism to Abu Dhabi. It signals our readiness to once again host international events and provides us with a learning opportunity to improve and adapt, and efficiently prepare for the scheduled events ahead of us this year,” Shaiba added.

“I would like to also extend my gratitude to the 1,678 Abu Dhabi event staff who has spent 14 days in hotel room isolation as part of our safety protocol. Their passion and commitment to this event represents our eagerness as a community to bring our much-loved events and tourists back to Abu Dhabi, safely and securely,” the Executive Director maintained.

UFC 251’s high point will be welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s defence against Jorge Masvidal, who was confirmed on Monday as a late replacement for Gilbert Burns. The Brazilian tested coronavirus positive before leaving the United States for Abu Dhabi.

Two other world title fights feature on the card, with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s rematch against Max Holloway, and Petr Yan clashing with Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight crown.

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