After months of debating whether “Fight Island” would actually become a reality, the UFC has finally revealed a location for its exclusive fight arena.
UFC President Dana White went on ESPN’s First Take to reveal that “Fight Island” will be taking place in Abu Dhabi, on Yas Island. The area will produce four events, which will include UFC 251 (July 11) and three UFC Fight Night’s. The other three events will be taking place on July 15 (Wednesday), July 18, and July 25.
🔸 Yas Island in Abu Dhabi
🔸 Octagon on the beach
🔸 Private training, hotel facilities
🔸 Three title fights pic.twitter.com/V6Fk3N80fw
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 9, 2020
“We came up with the idea of having fights on ‘Fight Island’ because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic,” UFC President Dana White stated in a release. “Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past ten years and it is the perfect place for these events. The infrastructure we are building will be such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters that’s never been done before – from the arena, the private training facility, and the Octagon on the island – it’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget. I can’t wait to deliver amazing fights from Yas island.”
This deal comes after the UFC signed a five-year partnership with the UAE. The last time the promotion was in the area was in 2019 when UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov beat interim champion Dustin Poirier in front of 14,000 fans. The UFC also held events in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and 2014.
“Fight Island” will have a safety zone of 10 square miles. Only athletes, coaches, UFC staff, and limited personnel will be allowed in the area. White also mentioned that there will be an octagon on the beach. Additional testing will be done to ensure all fighters can compete at the events.
Additionally, UFC 251 will feature the following bouts that were rumored for the card:
- Alexander Volkanovski (c) v. Max Holloway II – UFC Featherweight Championship
- Kamaru Usman (c) v. Gilbert Burns – UFC Welterweight Championship
- Petr Yan v. Jose Aldo – vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship
- Jessica Andrade v. Rose Namajunas II
- Paige VanZant v. Amanda Ribas
White mentioned that Usman was meant to face Jorge Masvidal, but a deal never was able to work out. Masvidal is currently involved in a heated battle with the UFC over pay and his contract.
“Fight Island” ended up being a concept following multiple arenas being shut down due to the coronavirus. It will also help out those unable to enter the United States as a result of travel restrictions. The area will be abiding by proper health and safety guidelines that the UFC has been maintaining during recent events they have held in Florida and Las Vegas.
“Our partnership with the UFC, now in its second year, has proved to be one of our most successful ventures in recent years,” HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said. “Thanks to their commitment and cooperation, we are proud to announce that Abu Dhabi will host the first-ever “Fight Island” event, marking the long-awaited return of UFC fights to the global stage.”
Stay tuned, as more fights and dates for “Fight island” are expected to be announced shortly.