UFC president Dana White says Abu Dhabi is the perfect place for the sport.
The month-long Fight Island event, which is being held behind closed doors, is the emirate's first major sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
An with the rest of the year's UFC events in the US in doubt, White said the Yas Island 'safe zone' where the fight nights are bein gheld is here to stay.
“People thought this Fight Island thing was three or four fights and that’s a wrap,” said White. “That’s not true – we’re here to stay. As far as trying to find another venue outside of the United States, it isn’t happening. Why would I go anywhere other than Abu Dhabi? Abu Dhabi could end up becoming the fight capital of the world… It’s definitely not Las Vegas right now.
“We are going to do a lot of fights over here. If you look at how many international fights we do, those are here in Abu Dhabi. DCT Abu Dhabi are incredible to work with; I literally could not say enough good things about this partnership. Literally everything has been perfect. When you look at what we’re dealing with and the circumstances going on, there’s nowhere else… These guys are the best at what they do. Nobody does it like Abu Dhabi.”
The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has a five-year agreement with UFC to host one event per year, and Fight Island falls outside of that, so another event is due befoe the end of 2020 at least.
Saeed Al Saeed, destination marketing director at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are committed to our agreement with UFC and will support Dana and his team where possible to ensure the sport can continue safely during COVID-19. We believe we’ve achieved that with our dedicated UFC Fight Island ‘safe zone’ on Yas Island, which aims to deliver a safe event for all and protect the wider Abu Dhabi community.
“Our mission is to learn from this event, so that we may start the journey of welcoming back international tourists and hosting events with spectators. Dana says Abu Dhabi might become the fight capital of the world, and I would love nothing more than to welcome fans of UFC to Abu Dhabi shores soon, when it’s safe to do so. Until then, we continue to test, learn and share our knowledge with the sporting world.”
The fourth and final Fight Island event will be live streamed through UFC Arabia in the UAE and on pay-per-view around the world.