Sport

Capital can dream big, predicts UFC chief Dana White

Capital can dream big, predicts UFC chief Dana White

Dubai: UFC President Dana White has called on the region, led by Abu Dhabi, to dream big in the run-up to UFC 242, which is taking place in the UAE capital this Saturday.

With Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier getting their last-minute preparations in order, White insisted that the “close connection” between the world’s leading MMA franchise and the UAE capital will continue to ensure Abu Dhabi hosts “big fights” in the future.

With MMA signing an ambitious five-year contract with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCTAD), organisers of the ongoing Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, White said that Abu Dhabi would be the host of many more top-class fighters in the near future.

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

“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.”

The Abu Dhabi Showdown Week is a seven-day festival of lifestyle and entertainment events that will conclude with UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier on September 7 at The Arena set-up on Yas Island.

“Abu Dhabi is a very cool city and I have a lot of things lined up to do during the week,” said White. “We are going to cruise around and basically do an episode of (White’s TV show) ‘Lookin’ For A Fight’. So, we are going to do all the cool things that the city has to offer.”

White also believes that it won’t be too long before 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,” White said.

“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.”