- ‘Fight Island’ is real. ‘Fight Island’ is happening. And there will be an Octagon on the beach as the UFC heads to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, for four shows in July.
- The beach Octagon, ESPN reported, will be for training purposes while the fight nights themselves will be in an arena.
- The first event, UFC 251 on July 11, has a strong card including many top-name competitors like Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns and Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway.
- “It’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget,” the UFC boss Dana White said.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
UFC has finally announced that “Fight Island” is real and it’s happening at Yas Island, an events space in Abu Dhabi, with four events already scheduled from mid-July.
The UFC boss Dana White teased in April a mysterious island he had apparently had talks about leasing, when the coronavirus pandemic had shut down the world’s major sports leagues.
White looked at ways to circumvent travel restrictions to allow his international athletes to compete, and honed in on the ‘Fight Island’ concept.
In a press release, White said: “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.
“Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past 10 years and it is the perfect place for these events.”
UFC will be holding ‘Fight Island’ events on:
- Saturday, July 11 – (UFC 251, a pay-per-view show)
- Wednesday, July 15 – (a Fight Night card)
- Saturday, July 18 – (a Fight Night card)
- Saturday, July 25 – (a Fight Night card)
— danawhite (@danawhite) June 9, 2020
White had recently told TMZ Sports that he didn’t want the fantasy generated by ‘Fight Island’ to eclipse the reality.
He said he feared people would be expecting an Octagon to be on the beach under the sun, and for him to be sitting cage-side on a throne, surrounded by tiki torches.
However, in Tuesday’s release, White promised a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters.”
He said: “The infrastructure we are building [has] 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.”
A small island geared toward entertainment, Yas Island has a Grand Prix car-racing circuit, amusement parks like Ferrari World and Warner Bros World, a shopping mall, a beach, and a golf course.
The ESPN MMA reporter Brett Okamoto said Tuesday that the first “Fight Island” event, the UFC 251 show, will feature many fights, including:
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway – featherweight title fight
- Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns – welterweight title fight
- Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo – bantamweight title fight
- Paige VanZant vs. Amanda Ribas – women’s flyweight fight
- Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka – light heavyweight fight
Okamoto added that the UFC’s designated part of Yas Island will include an arena, hotel, training facilities, and dining establishments.
There will be a safety zone of 10 square miles where only UFC athletes, coaches, staff, and personnel will be allowed.
While the athletes will fight under a roof in an arena, there will be an Octagon on the beach for training purposes, ESPN said.
The UFC has previously held events in Yas Island, including its first live event in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
The most recent show was UFC 242 when Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his lightweight championship with a dominant win against Dustin Poirier in September, last year.
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