Abu Dhabi aims for a knock­out with UFC se­ries

Arab News - - Sport News - Ali Khaled Dubai

Dana White’s tweet summed it up.

“They’re light years ahead of ev­ery­body else in what’s go­ing on with the pan­demic, so it re­ally was the per­fect part­ner­ship,” the

UFC pres­i­dent said of Abu Dhabi’s host­ing of Fight Is­land.

The mixed mar­tial arts event, which was held on Yas Is­land from July 12-26, was the first in­ter­na­tional sport­ing fix­ture to take place fol­low­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break.

“It was an im­por­tant sig­nal to the world about Abu Dhabi’s readi­ness,” said Saeed Al-Saeed, des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing direc­tor at the city’s Depart­ment of Cul­ture and Tourism. “This high­lights a des­ti­na­tion with the high­est pos­si­ble hospi­tal­ity and stan­dards, while tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the health and safety of ev­ery­one in­volved. So, you get fives­tar ser­vices, but we also make sure that we fol­low our gov­ern­ment’s lead

re­gard­ing vis­i­tors’ health and safety.”

Thanks to a safety zone and a metic­u­lous test­ing pro­gram, Fight Is­land passed with­out in­ci­dent.

“If you look at Abu Dhabi and the UAE in gen­eral, we have done more test­ing than any­one else in the world per capita,” Al-Saeed said. “We con­ducted 18,000 virus tests in one month for 2,000 peo­ple. Our readi­ness to wel­come guests meant a lot to us.”

Now UFC Fight Is­land 2.0 will again see some of the big­gest names in the world’s premier mixed mar­tial arts or­ga­ni­za­tion, with the five-event se­ries — in­clud­ing UFC 253, three Fight Nights and UFC 254 — set to take place on Yas Is­land from Sept. 27 to Oct. 25.

Among the high­lights will be the match-up be­tween Brazil­ian fighter Paulo Costa and Is­rael Ade­sanya in a UFC 253 mid­dleweight clash on Satur­day.

The pair will be joined by Jan Bla­chow­icz and Do­minick Reyes, who go head-to-head in a light heavy­weight bout on the same event card.

The sec­ond edi­tion of Fight Is­land has taken or­ga­ni­za­tional ef­forts to new lev­els, ac­cord­ing to Al-Saeed. “It has to be big­ger and bet­ter,” he said. “With the cur­rent cir­cum­stances, that was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult. When you’ve had an event that was the third-high­est paid in UFC his­tory, fol­lowed by three re­ally stacked Fight Nights, how can you top that?

“This time around we had to make sure we went big. You have UFC 253 with Ade­sanya and Costa, two un­de­feated fight­ers, fol­lowed by three Fight Nights with packed cards.”

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