Etihad Airways flies UFC fighters to Abu Dhabi - GulfToday

Etihad Airways flies UFC fighters to Abu Dhabi

UFC fighters

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya arrives in Abu Dhabi from Las Vegas, ahead of his title defence against Paulo Costa at UFC 253, which opens Fight Island 2 in the capital on Sept.27. Courtesy: Etihad

Abu Dhabi: Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, announced the arrival of UFC President Dana White and UFC athletes and support crew ahead of the second edition of UFC Fight Island taking place in Abu Dhabi this September and October.

As the official airline partner of UFC Fight Island, Etihad carried UFC athletes Israel Adesanya and Dominick Reyes from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi, with Paulo Costa and Jan Blachowicz jetting into the UAE capital from London. Retired Brazilian UFC athlete and UFC Hall of Famer, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira also arrived in the UAE capital from London.

The team were welcomed on board by Etihad’s award-winning cabin crew, including the Etihad Wellness Ambassador, a member of the crew dedicated to guest wellbeing on board.

According to a press release sent out by the airline, Etihad also collaborated with local artist and calligrapher, Diaa Allam, to personalise its Acqua di Parma amenity kits with Arabic calligraphy for its guests. In between the two pay-per-view events mentioned, Fight Island 2 will host three UFC Fight Nights, on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 respectively.

The action-packed schedule begins on Saturday, Sept. 26, with UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa, as middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faces his toughest test yet against Brazilian powerhouse Paulo Costa.  A new light heavyweight champion will be crowned on the same card, as Dominick Reyes takes on Jan Blachowicz for the vacant belt.

The action doesn’t stop there, as UFC 253 is followed by UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Aldana on Saturday,Oct.3; UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs Sandhagen on Saturday, Oct.10; and UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs The Korean Zombie on Saturday, Oct.17.  

Return to UFC Fight Island concludes with UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje on Saturday, Oct.24, featuring the most highly anticipated match up of the year, as undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov makes his return to the Octagon to defend his belt against interim champion and No.1 contender Justin Gaethje.  

Meanwhile, there has been much bad blood between Adesanya and Costa. But for the time being, they are saving it for the octagon.

The highly anticipated middleweight title bout between Adesanya and Costa headlines UFC 253 on Saturday to kick off a five-week stretch of events for the promotion on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

On Sunday morning, Costa’s manager Wallid Ismail posted a video to his Instagram page of a run-in where the 185-pound rivals faced off on Fight Island. In stark contrast to previous interactions, the two kept it professional and pleasant as they briefly chatted, according to a MMA report.

After they shook hands, Adesanya pointed out the challenger looked skinny, to which Costa replied, “I look lean, never skinny.” The champion jokingly requested Costa remain skinny ahead of the pay-per-view main event on Saturday.

Since making octagon debut in February 2018, Adesanya’s (19-0) rise has been meteoric. “The Last Stylebender” has won all eight of his octagon appearances, including capturing the interim and undisputed middleweight titles in respective bouts against Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whittaker before successfully defending it against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 in March

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