Abu Dhabi welcomes epic 'Return To UFC Fight Island'

Abu Dhabi welcomes epic 'Return To UFC Fight Island'

Abu Dhabi: It’s official. The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT-Abu Dhabi) and UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, have announced the ‘Return To UFC Fight Island’, the much-anticipated second series to be held on Yas Island from September 26 to October 24.

Following the overwhelming success of July’s inaugural series, which saw the state-of-the-art UFC Fight Island Safe Zone applied across all event-related areas of Yas Island, the series’ epic return less than three months later marks another historic first for Abu Dhabi and the sport.

The UAE capital is continuing to take a leading position in safely regulated high-profile sports events during the COVID-19 pandemic through the successful management of health and safety protocols, providing a further boost to the local economy while showcasing the world’s leading MMA athletes.

Return To UFC Fight Island will feature a mega five-event schedule including UFC 253, UFC 254 and three Fight Nights in the UAE’s premier leisure and entertainment destination.

It marks the first time that two consecutive UFC pay-per-view events have been held in the same city outside of Las Vegas, which is yet another historic first for Abu Dhabi.

Return To UFC Fight Island will kick off with a middleweight title bout on September 26 with UFC 253: Adesanya v Costa, followed by UFC Fight Night: Holm v Aldana on October 3, UFC Fight Night: Moraes v Sandhagen on October 10, and UFC Fight Night: Ortega v Korean Zombie on October 17.

Return To UFC Fight Island will culminate with UFC 254: Nurmagomedov v Gaethje on October 24, when the world’s highest rated MMA artist. Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to the Octagon for the first time since defeating the USA’s Dustin Poirier via third-round submission at UFC 242 during last September’s inaugural Abu Dhabi Showdown Week.

The UFC Octagon is returning to Abu Dhabi's Yas Island
The UFC Octagon is returning to Abu Dhabi's Yas Island Image Credit: Supplied

Having achieved a new benchmark in global sport safety with its pioneering ‘bubble’ concept at the inaugural UFC Fight Island in July, the Safe Zone will incorporate an arena, hotels, training facilities, as well as entertainment and dining establishments.

Abu Dhabi led the development of the ‘Go Safe Certification’, which enforces global safety and hygiene standards across the emirate’s hotels, attractions, malls, hospitality facilities and public venues, and supports the emirate’s wider efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, which include widespread testing, city-wide sanitation, social distancing, and enhanced healthcare services.

“UFC Fight Island proved to be a tremendous success and its rapid return is testament to the strength of our partnership with UFC, and the global confidence in Abu Dhabi’s ability and preparedness to host major international events with the highest standards of health and safety,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT-Abu Dhabi.

“The Return To UFC Fight Island concept underlines both Abu Dhabi’s commitment to global sporting and tourism events as well as the collaborative approach taken by various government departments to ensure the emirate is ready to safely welcome back visitors, business and more major international events across multiple sectors.”

Dana White, the UFC President, added: “UFC Fight Island was a massive success in every way that you can measure success. While the rest of the world shut down, we worked with our partners in Abu Dhabi to put on the best live sporting experience, and we did it safely and responsibly.

“The infrastructure they have in place, from the arena, to the hotels, to the restaurants, is second to none, and we’re excited to be going back.

“Return To UFC Fight Island will showcase some of the best fights of the year, including one that I’ve predicted has ‘Fight of the Year’ potential. This stretch of fights is going to be insane and I can’t wait.”

As part of stringent public health and safety protocols, the UFC Fight Island Safe Zone will only be accessible to UFC athletes and their coaches, UFC staff, event personnel and essential employees necessary to ensure the operational continuity of all Yas Island facilities.

A mandatory period of quarantine and negative COVID-19 test is required before entry into the Safe Zone, while regular testing will be conducted for everybody inside the ‘bubble’ throughout the series.

Designed to ensure the wellbeing of all UFC Fight Island participants, Yas Island residents and visitors, the robust health and safety measures signal Abu Dhabi’s readiness to revive tourism and welcome visitors back to the emirate once commercial flights to Abu Dhabi International Airport resume.

It will also attempt to underline the Government of Abu Dhabi’s collaborative COVID-19 response, which is widely recognised as among the finest in the world.

Return To UFC Fight Island events will be broadcast in the UAE and across MENA on UFC Arabia, UFC’s first Arabic-language subscription service in the region, which is available through Apple Store, Google Play and via web browsers and smart TV.