Abu Dhabi delivers the dream as UFC Fight IslandTM kicks off with a successful opening event

UFCÒ 251 launched UFC Fight IslandTM with 13 fights on Sunday, including three title bouts

  • UFC Fight IslandTM showcases Abu Dhabi’s ability to safely host world-class sporting events despite COVID-19 situation

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The opening night of UFC Fight IslandTM inspired awe and excitement amongst UFC fans and sporting organisations across the world, not only due to the sporting spectacle, but also for the ambitious yet seamless delivery of an international event in the midst of a global pandemic.

The action-packed UFCÒ 251 card - which saw Petr Yan of Russia crowned Bantamweight Champion of the World, Australia’s Alex Volkanovski retain his Featherweight belt and Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman retain his Welterweight belt - had promised world-class fights from the start. However, the real story was outside the Octagon in the shape of the purpose-built 11km ‘safe zone’ on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

In just four weeks, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) created UFC Fight IslandTM from the world-class facilities on Yas Island. Not only that, the safety measures were on “another level” as UFC President Dana White described them.

Ahead of the first fight, more than 10,000 tests were conducted within the safe zone, with every individual in the zone having to take a COVID-19 test every 72hrs to ensure the area remained COVID-free. The safe zone, which is amongst the first ‘sporting bubbles’ in the world, will continue to house all UFC personnel and event staff for the remaining three Fight Nights, with only fighters entering and exiting the zone for their fights.  

The concept on Yas Island also offers fighters opportunities to experience some of the world-class hospitality and tourism attractions Abu Dhabi has to offer, such as the iconic Yas Marina Circuit, home to the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Links Golf Course, and Yas Beach along with a range of 3-5 star hotels in the zone.

Saeed Al Saeed, Destination Marketing Director for DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “It has been a massive undertaking from everyone involved to deliver UFC Fight IslandTM, with many of us being away from our families for five weeks to ensure a safe and smooth event. But this goes to show our commitment as a city to hosting sports and tourists, as well as supporting and driving innovation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are learning every day and feeding this into our plans for the coming months when our events calendar is usually busy. We now turn our attention to the ESPN Fight Night on Thursday morning, where it's bound to be another incredible event for UFC fans and for Abu Dhabi."

Dana White, President of the UFC, has also been complimentary of Abu Dhabi in their work to host this monumental event: “The whole experience so far has been amazing. Ever since Fight Island was announced, we knew this could be the place to do it. The organisation has been on another level and the level of safety protocols put into place to ensure we could do this event has been unparalleled. When you come to do a live event, nobody does it like Abu Dhabi. Nobody.”

Headline fight Usman vs Masvidal saw Nigerian-American Usman retain his Welterweight belt in a five-round thriller against MMA Fighter of the Year 2019 Jorge Masvidal. Usman said: “I love Abu Dhabi; I love the UAE. I really wanted this fight and I’m happy it took place here. I’ve been here before and loved it and I was planning a vacation here before the pandemic hit. I’ll plan it again at a later date when it’s safe, but I’ll definitely be back.”

The back-to-back fight weekends signal Abu Dhabi’s readiness to revive international sport, with four fight events taking place over the course of two weeks. Boasting high levels of safety and sanitation, Yas Island provides the ideal environment to host world-class international sporting events in an innovative and safe environment. UFC Fight IslandTM continues with successive ESPN Fight Nights to be held on Thursday, July 16 from 3am local time (19:00 ET); Sunday, July 19 from 1am local time (17:00 ET); and Sunday, July 26 from 1am local time (17:00 ET). 


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About the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

The Department of Culture and Tourism conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction, which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The organisation manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Louvre Abu Dhabi. DCT Abu Dhabi also supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.

About UFC:

UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, with more than 318 million fans and 102 million social media followers. The organization produces more than 40 live events annually in some of the most prestigious arenas around the world, while broadcasting to nearly one billion TV households across more than 175 countries. UFC’s athlete roster features the world’s best MMA athletes, representing more than 65 countries. The organization’s digital offerings include UFC FIGHT PASS®, the world’s leading streaming service for combat sports. UFC was acquired in 2016 by global entertainment, sports and content company Endeavor and strategic investors Silver Lake Partners and KKR. UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit UFC.com and follow UFC at Facebook.com/UFC, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram: @UFC.

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