More big fights in the offing for Abu Dhabi, says UFC President White - GulfToday

More big fights in the offing for Abu Dhabi, says UFC President White

More big fights in the offing for  Abu Dhabi, says UFC President White

The Khabib Nurmagomedov-American Dustin Poirier bout is the highlight of the 11 fights scheduled to be held at The Arena, Yas Island, on Saturday.

UFC President Dana White while showering praises on the iconic setup — The Arena, the all-new indoor venue at Yas Island — said that a special bonding between the world’s leading MMA franchise and Abu Dhabi will ensure the Capital witnesses more ‘big fights’ in the coming years.

The groundbreaking new partnership signed in April between UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, and the Department of Culture and Tourism -- Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) sees the sport’s highly anticipated return to the Capital after five years.

A lightweight title unification bout between Russian star Khabib Nurmagomedov and American Dustin Poirier is the highlight of the 11 fights scheduled for Saturday.

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.

“We have a really close connection with Abu Dhabi because we’ve already been there a few times, and the fights we’ve done there before,” said White.

“The people of the UAE have been so good to the UFC. We are going to continue to come back and bring big fights to the Middle East.”

UFC previously held events in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and in 2014. UFC made history with its first event, UFC 112, in 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 in 2014.

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

“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.”

White also believes that it will not be too long until athletes from the UAE and across the Middle East start appearing on UFC fight cards – and claiming UFC belts.

“Since we have done events in Abu Dhabi, and it happens everywhere we go, it kick-starts the market, gyms pop up and people are training. Talent is coming out of the area,” said White.

“I won’t be surprised -- I said this about England, I said this about Australia, Canada and every country we have gone to -- there will be a champion from the Middle East probably within the next six to seven years.”

The Abu Dhabi Showdown Week programme includes a two-night concert series featuring American rock legends the Red Hot Chili Peppers and reggaeton superstar J Balvin, as well as other major international musicians and DJs playing at pool, beach and after parties.

During Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, eight UFC guest fighters will also conduct numerous activations for fans at 10 Abu Dhabi malls, while there will be numerous accompanying retail and food and beverage promotions around the city.

“I am looking forward to the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Wednesday and I am looking forward to the fight on Saturday,” said White.

“On top of that, Abu Dhabi is a very cool city and I have a lot of things lined up to do during the week.”

Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor



UFC 242 main card

Weight class

UFC Lightweight Championship

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Dustin Poirier

Edson Barboza vs Paul Felder

Islam Makhachev vs Davi Ramos

Mairbek Taisumov vs Carlos Diego Ferreira

Heavyweight

Curtis Blaydes vs Shamil Abdurakhimov

Preliminary Card

Women’s Flyweight

Joanne Calderwood vs Andrea Lee

Featherweight

Zubaira Tukhugov vs Lerone Murphy

Women’s Bantamweight

Liana Jojua vs Sarah Moras

Lightweight

Ottman Azaitar vs Teemu Packalén

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

Welterweight

Belal Muhammad vs Takashi Sato

Nordine Taleb vs Muslim Salikhov

Middleweight

Omari Akhmedov vs Zak Cummings

Lightweight

Don Madge vsFares Ziam

Bantamweight

Khalid Taha vs Bruni Silva