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UFC President Dana White says Fight Island is 'here to stay' in 'perfect' Abu Dhabi

UFC President Dana White says Fight Island is 'here to stay' in 'perfect' Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: UFC President Dana White has praised Abu Dhabi for its “perfect” handling and hospitality during the ongoing UFC Fight Island events in the UAE.

With doubts surrounding upcoming UFC fights scheduled for August in Las Vegas, due to Nevada’s increasing COVID-19 case count and rumours of a potential return to lockdown for the state, White was asked what his backup plan would be.

“People thought this Fight Island thing was three or four fights and that’s a wrap,” said White. “That’s not true — we’re here to stay. As far as trying to find another venue outside of the United States, it isn’t happening. Why would I go anywhere other than Abu Dhabi? Abu Dhabi could end up becoming the fight capital of the world. It’s definitely not Las Vegas right now.

“We are going to do a lot of fights over here. If you look at how many international fights we do, those are here in Abu Dhabi. DCT Abu Dhabi are incredible to work with; I literally could not say enough good things about this partnership. Literally everything has been perfect. When you look at what we’re dealing with and the circumstances going on, there’s nowhere else … these guys are the best at what they do. Nobody does it like Abu Dhabi.”

Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil celebrates after defeating Joseph Benavidez in their UFC flyweight championship bout during UFC Fight Night at the Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi.
Dana White attaches the UFC flyweight championship belt to Deiveson Figueiredo';s waist at UFC Fight Night on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

The Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has a five-year agreement with UFC to host one event per year. UFC Fight Island is in addition to that agreement, so a 2020 fight is still owed as part of that deal.

Saeed Al Saeed, Destination Marketing Director at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are committed to our agreement with UFC and will support Dana and his team where possible to ensure the sport can continue safely during COVID-19. We believe we’ve achieved that with our dedicated UFC Fight Island ‘safe zone’ on Yas Island, which aims to deliver a safe event for all and protect the wider Abu Dhabi community.

“Our mission is to learn from this event, so that we may start the journey of welcoming back international tourists and hosting events with spectators. Dana says Abu Dhabi might become the fight capital of the world, and I would love nothing more than to welcome fans of UFC to Abu Dhabi shores soon, when it’s safe to do so. Until then, we continue to test, learn and share our knowledge with the sporting world.”

More than 12,000 COVID-19 tests have now been administered on UFC Fight Island in the last four weeks, with all UFC personnel, event staff and Yas Island employees tested every 72 hours. This testing protocol, as well as a 14-day staff quarantine and innovative measures such as ‘mist tunnels’ — 1.5m sanitisation tunnels on entry to the venue — are all part of Abu Dhabi’s mission to bring back events and tourists in 2020.

UFC Fight Island continues with Fight Night on Sunday, July 26, from 1am local time.