The UFC’s next stop is Fight Island – and Abu Dhabi is right on track to host a fortnight of events that will be the focus of the MMA world.
This weekend the organisation wrapped up a fourth show at their Apex facility in Las Vegas, with all eyes now on UFC 251 and the three other Fight Nights, to be hosted on Yas Island.
And that won’t be all. We already know another Pay-Per-View event will come to Abu Dhabi in either September or October as part of the UFC’s ongoing contract with Abu Dhabi – but with much of the world cut off in terms of travel and event hosting, it could be even more fights could come..
Dana White mentioned the idea in a recent press conference and HE Ali Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), said the Emirate is ready should they get the call.
“He (White) talked about fights being between Vegas and Abu Dhabi until the end of the year and we are happy to be a location for the UFC globally,” explained Al Shaiba. “I think it is a great partnership, we can see a lot of potential in this and hope it will continue.
“From a media perspective it would give us great exposure. It is a great space for Abu Dhabi to be in and put us on the map as a destination that can hold international events.”
With a little under two weeks until UFC 251, it won’t be long before officials and fighters start arriving to ready themselves for the organisation’s first event outside the United States since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the globe.
For the upcoming weeks, everyone within the Fight Island safe zone can expect a rigorous Covid-19 testing process – this includes everyone from site workers, admin staff, media, right the way through to UFC officials, teams, and of course the fighters.
HE Al Shaiba explained preparations are on track and what the fighters can expect when they arrive in the UAE.
“The testing is all part of the protocol that has been announced by the authorities in Abu Dhabi, it is no different than the testing we do for people regularly,” he said.
“The protocols for them (the fighters) will be no different to the other staff already in place. A test will be placed pre-departure from the places they will come from, and then once they arrive in the airport terminal another test will be conducted.
“Then they will go to the zone and a third test will be conducted before they leave their rooms and enjoy the facilities.”
For Abu Dhabi, the ability to host Fight Island has made other sports and organisations take notice with several enquiring about the possibility of hosting events in the near future.
“We have seen a lot of other sports organisers reach out to us to see the possibility of hosting events in Abu Dhabi and we are still studying these opportunities, but nothing is confirmed yet,” Al Shaiba said.
UFC 251 takes place on July 11, the start of two weeks of Fight Island action that will include Fight Nights on July 11, 15, 18 and 25.
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