When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States, several sports entities shut down. States like Nevada, California, and New York banned combat sports from the area as nobody knew what to expect. Despite all of this, UFC President Dana White would not give up on holding events. Now, it seems like he has a consistent contingency plan ready to use at a moment’s notice.
“Fight Island” was created to host fights for those unable to enter the United States. The location benefits the UFC, as a deal with Abu Dhabi has the promotion putting on events on Yas Island. So far, four major fight cards will take place on Yas Island, starting with UFC 251 on July 11. Following that, the UFC will have events on July 15, 18, and 25. What about after?
For now, the UFC will be hosting events in Las Vegas after “Fight Island” events take place, thanks to the Nevada Athletic Commission. With COVID-19 cases increasing in the United States recently, however, there may be a chance Nevada shuts down again. According to John Hopkins University, there are over 19,000 cases of the virus in the Las Vegas area. Speaking with Yahoo Sports, White discussed that “Fight Island” may not be a one-time thing if that were to be the case.
“We’re set up there and this is where I plan on doing fights for the rest of the year and possibly longer,” White said. “I’m hoping Nevada doesn’t shut down again. I’m really hoping it stays open, but you have to at least be aware of the possibility that it might [close]. For us, the good news is that we’ll just stay at Fight Island and do the shows there, so we’re not going anywhere.”
The UFC created new testing procedures ahead of their initial return to Las Vegas after hosting events in Florida. With “Fight Island” approaching the UFC created new guidelines, which includes getting tested up to five times. Checkpoints, like Las Vegas, have been picked as the launch pad before flying to Abu Dhabi. “Fight Island” will be its own “Bubble” from the rest of the world, with 650,000 square miles dedicated to the UFC and its staff.
The first event for “Fight island” will be UFC 251. The main event will be Kamaru Usman defending the UFC Welterweight Title against Jorge Masvidal. Alexander Volkanovski will defend the UFC Featherweight Championship in the co-main event against the man he beat for the title in Max Holloway. Finally, Jose Aldo and Petr Yan will fight to determine the new UFC Bantamweight Champion.