Abu Dhabi to host UFC title fights for next five years - GulfToday

Abu Dhabi to host UFC title fights for next five years

Boxing

Khabib Nurmagomedov has not competed since his highly controversial victory against Conor McGregor last October.

UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) on Monday announced a groundbreaking new partnership to bring UFC events to the emirate for the next five years, beginning with UFC® 242 on Saturday, Sept.7.

UFC will be a part of Abu Dhabi’s continually growing mega events calendar, with new festivals, sporting events and other initiatives being drawn to the emirate in part by the attractive benefits offered by the Advantage Abu Dhabi programme. Advantage Abu Dhabi provides a unique opportunity for event organisers, increasing the overall value proposition of the destination by providing an array of support services throughout the event planning cycle.

The partnership with UFC is the latest to demonstrate the power of the programme in creating new business opportunities in Abu Dhabi.

A lightweight title unification bout between Russian star Khabib Nurmagomedov and American Dustin Poirier has been mooted, however organisers said that details regarding the fight card have still to be completed.

One of the most popular fighters in the sport, Nurmagomedov has not competed since his highly controversial victory against Ireland’s Conor McGregor last October, when a post-fight brawl resulted in Nurmagomedov receiving a nine-month ban.

The unbeaten fighter, 30, boasts a perfect record of 27 wins from 27 professional fights, a run that represents the longest undefeated streak in MMA.

UFC’s highly anticipated return to Abu Dhabi, the promotion’s first since 2014, will air live on global broadcasters around the world and on pay-per-view in select markets. Though the bouts are still being confirmed, the card will be headlined by at least one championship fight.

Likewise, over the course of the partnership, subsequent UFC events held in Abu Dhabi will be headlined by at least one championship bout.

“Abu Dhabi is now firmly established as a unique tourism destination which offers a diverse mix of activities and initiatives that cater to all kinds of audience and visitors,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, DCT Abu Dhabi.

“The emirate also has a strong affiliation with world-class sporting events, such as the FIFA World Club Cup, the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Red Bull Air Race, and now this deal to bring UFC here allows us to once again show our ability to stage major events that thrill visitors and residents alike.

“UFC will become a key component of Abu Dhabi’s thriving events calendar for the next five years, which is already packed full of not only great sporting events, but also cultural, arts and entertainment offerings as well. This spectacular mixed martial arts event, which has a huge following around the world, will bring heightened impetus to visitation in the third quarter for the emirate and will no doubt boost incoming tourist numbers as fight fans across the world gather in Abu Dhabi.”

“We are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi because we have had great success in that market,” said UFC President Dana White.

“The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE. I’m very excited about this partnership and what it will mean for the growth of this sport and for UFC in the region.”

UFC previously held live events in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and in 2014. UFC made history with its first event, UFC 112®: INVINCIBLE, on April 10, 2010, as it was the promotion’s first held outdoors. To stage the event, UFC built an open-air arena on Yas Island adjacent to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. UFC returned to Abu Dhabi on April 11, 2014, as the promotion hosted UFC FIGHT NIGHT: NOGUEIRA vs NELSON at du Arena on Yas Island.

UFC 242 on Spet.7 will be the culmination of a week-long series of activities available to fans that travel from around the world and converge on Abu Dhabi for the event. Fans will be treated to a UFC fight week that will include open workouts, weigh-ins, press conferences, live entertainment, and more.

Additional details about UFC 242, including venue, scheduled fights, ticket sales, and activities for fight week, will be announced at a later date.

As a demonstration of its commitment to its fans in the Middle East, UFC announced earlier this month that it had chosen Abu Dhabi Media as its new long-term broadcast partner in the region.