The location of UFC’s Fight Island was finally revealed to be in Abu Dhabi per a report by Combate (via Globo), and it appears the plan is for UFC president Dana White and company to set up shop on one of the 200 islands located in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.
White confirmed the reported location during his appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday.
Fight Island is Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
On First Take, Dana White announces Fight Island is Yas Island in Abu Dhabi
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) June 9, 2020
UFC events on July 11, July 15, July 18 and July 25 will take place at that location.
— danawhite (@danawhite) June 9, 2020
Before White officially confirmed Abu Dhabi as the location, the UFC president had already revealed some of the company’s other plans about Fight Island to Jon Anik.
“Right now, we’re looking at June and we’re literally going to knock out three or four fights there in a month…” White said. “I’ll probably be there the whole month of July.”
“Right now, we’re looking at June and we’re literally going to knock out three or four fights there in a month… I’ll probably be there the whole month of July.”@danawhite gives @Jon_Anik the latest update on Fight Island 🏝 pic.twitter.com/J5r6dbHnFn
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 22, 2020
Indeed White booked events on Fight Island for the entire month of July.
On top of that, Fight Island merchandise has been available to purchase online at the UFC shop for weeks now.
So as much as it seemed to some like Fight Island was something out of a comic book or martial arts movie, it turns out Fight Island is actually going to be a real thing.
Welcome to UFC Fight Island Ⓒ
Who do you want to appear on the greatest show on earth? 😏🏝 pic.twitter.com/NmRh8p3Xzi
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) June 1, 2020
Why Abu Dhabi Makes Sense
Per Combate, the UFC’s original plan was for the company to debut Fight Island on either June 27 or July 11.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani later reported that UFC 251 on July 11 would be the first UFC pay-per-view event on Fight Island.
Additionally, Combate reported the reason Abu Dhabi might make the most sense to the UFC is because of it’s less strict travel regulations and COVID-19 procedures during the global pandemic (translated by Google):
In Abu Dhabi, restrictions on international flights are less. Whoever arrives in the country is tested on landing, but is not forced into isolation for 14 days; only self-quarantine is recommended until the test result is released.
Moreover, the UFC is familiar with the area as it had hosted several events there in the past, so the company must have been happy with how those other events turned out as well as the UFC’s established relationships with local officials. Per Combate:
The city has hosted three UFC events, always with arenas set up exclusively for cards. The most recent took place on Yas Island on September 7 of last year, UFC 242, which saw Khabib Nurmagomedov defend the lightweight belt against Dustin Poirier, and the tendency is to repeat itself in events starting on June 27.
The June 27 card hasn’t yet been announced by the company, but White already revealed to Jim Rome that it would probably feature a lightweight showdown between Dustin Poirer and Dan Hooker.
Since both of those fighters are already in the U.S., the card would likely take place at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
UFC Marches Ahead During Global Pandemic
The UFC continued to march to the beat of its own drum despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While the company was forced to pause it’s scheduled events back in April, UFC officials had things ready to move forward again by May 9 for UFC 249 and several other events that followed over the next two weeks.
Now it appears the UFC has both its UFC APEX location in Las Vegas, Nevada and the UFC Fight Island venue in Abu Dhabi to use as the company continues to put fights on for the rest of the year.
— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) June 6, 2020
While most other sports remain in a holding pattern even now, the UFC already appears ready to move full speed ahead with its summer plans.
Some of those summer plans, including UFC 251 on July 11, will take place on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
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