UFC event Fight Island coming to Abu Dhabi in July

There will be four fight nights during the behind-closed-doors showcase on Yas Island.

How the UFC arena will look for FIght Island
How the UFC arena will look for FIght Island

Following on from 2019's massively successful UFC 242 event in Abu Dhabi, the mixed martial arts showcase is coming back to the UAE capital with Fight Island. 

Back in April, UFC president Dana White announced the new event, which he said would take over an island to host an international roster of fighters in a behind-closed-doors event. 

Well, that private island is Abu Dhabi's Yas Island, which will be turned into a "bubble" for the event to take place. 

As there are still social distancing rules in place across the world, not just here in the UAE, everyone involved (fighters, staff, judges, organisers) will have to fly in ahead of time, undergo quarantine and be tested for Covid-19 before being allowed to participate. 

Fight Island will take place in July in association with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT - Abu Dhabi). 

There will be four fight nights over the course of the month with ten to 12 fights in each. The first will take place on July 11, followed by July 15, 18, and 25. Though the names of the fighters have not been announced yet, we're told the majority of the top ten fighters in the world will be taking part. 

We spoke to Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, executive director of DCT - Abu Dhabi, who said the huge event would "show the world that Abu Dhabi is a safe place to visit".  

He said: "This event has been being planned for two months. They asked us if it was possible and we said yes. Recently UFC confirmed it and we told them 'we are ready'. 

"We showed great success with 2019's event, so it was easy for the UFC to choose Abu Dhabi as the location for Fight Island.

"We're excited that they chose Abu Dhabi. The government has done a great job managing the effect of Covid-19. The protocols and health and safety measures have kept the people and communities of Abu Dhabi safe."

More than 2,500 people will be living, working and relaxing in a section of Yas Island throughout the month-long event. 

Al Shaiba added: "They will be inside a 'bubble' for the whole time. Restaurants will be open, some of the beaches will be. They will train there and relax and have fun there." 

"The event will showcase Abu Dhabi's ability to put on huge events despite any challenges. It is a signal that shows the health and safety measures and protocols mean we are coming back with a safe destination where people can come for events and holidays, to enjoy the attractions, resorts and pristine beaches.

"We hope people are excited for this and hopefully next time we will see spectators at the event."

No spectators will be allowed inside the arena but you will be able to watch it as it will be broadcast live around the world. Abu Dhabi Media currently has the rights to all of the UFC events that form part of the five-year deal that kicked off last year. 

In September 2019, Abu Dhabi Showdown Week saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers play in a purpose-built arena and loads of associated events and activities around the capital for UFC fans to enjoy. 

The news comes after it was confirmed the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would be returning without spectators in December. 

UFC 242 saw lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his title against American Dustin Poirier.

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