Abu Dhabi aims for a knockout with UFC series
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.”