Sport

UFC 251 is one of our biggest events, says Dana White

UFC 251 is one of our biggest events, says Dana White

The much-awaited action on the Fight Island in Abu Dhabi is just a few hours away.

Looking back at the journey so far, it's been quite a roller coaster ride ever since the local authorities revealed Yas Island would host the mega event in the 11-km 'Safe Zone'.

And soon a crew of 740 was at work to turn the 640,000sqm area into a venue fit to host the first major sports event amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Flash Forum, where the drama will unfold, is now ready to deliver an unforgettable experience for the UFC fans.

Abu Dhabi also did the unthinkable by flying in athletes from different parts of the world - a feat no other country has managed to achieve due to travel restrictions.

And safety has been the top priority here with over 8,000 Covid-19 tests being conducted so far.

Naturally, Dana White, the UFC president, was delighted as he doffed his hat to the UAE for providing his sport with the ideal environment to stage the high-profile event.

The 50-year-old American businessman also said that conducting the Fight Island is an unparalleled achievement keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We're doing right now, what nobody else can do. Nobody else can pull off, what we're pulling off, and I think a lot of people are fascinated by that. I can't wait for tomorrow," White said.

"You know how difficult this sport is to run and manage. All the things that happen - Covid-19, quarantine and if one guy tests positive all hell breaks loose. It's a whole different animal."

And the UFC 251 -- Kamaru Usman versus Jorge Masvidal -- is already one of the most successful events ever done by the UFC, White declared ahead of Sunday's main event.

"This thing is trending higher than a Conor McGregor fight. The only thing this fight is comparable to is Conor-Khabib (Nurmagomedov)," he said.

White also announced that the UFC has already eclipsed last year's merchandise sales.

"UFC stores sold more merchandise already now than we did in all of 2019. This thing is trending as big as a fight I've ever seen in my entire career. If you look at the numbers and what's going on, it's got to deliver tomorrow now," he said.

"When you build a fight, a huge melting pot of different ingredients you put in for the thing to be really successful. Fight Island is a big part of that."

The action starts by 2 am (UAE Time) on Sunday with four early preliminary cards and main cards of five fights, including one Pay Per View of UFC 251 which begins by 6 am.

In the UAE and region, the events will be broadcast on UFC Arabia.