The UFC’s Fight Island is real, and it’s located in the Middle East.
UFC president Dana White revealed to ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday that his mysterious Fight Island is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The island will help the company promote some of its international athletes who have a hard time entering the United States because of travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The UFC will host four events on Fight Island next month, starting with a UFC 251 pay-per-view on July 11. UFC Fight Night cards will take place on July 15, 18 and 25.
UFC 251 will feature three championship bouts, according to White. A welterweight title bout between champion Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns will headline. The card will also see a featherweight title rematch between Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway, and Petr Yan will take on Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight championship.
The designated area of Yas Island that will make up Fight Island includes an arena, hotel, training facilities and dining establishments, per the UFC. It will also include a “safety zone” of 10 square miles in which the only people permitted will be athletes, coaches, UFC staff and limited personnel.
“We’re literally just going to Yas Island right now to pull off these fights, because the hardest thing to do right now is to get people into the country from other parts of the world,” White said Tuesday. “And we are a true global business; we’re the only ones that are pulling off live sports right now. And if I continue to do fights in the United States, I’m gonna burn out all my American talent. So now we’ve got Yas Island ready to go; it’s set up.”
A training Octagon will, in fact, be set up on the beach, as White had said in a previous interview with ESPN.
The company has strong ties to Abu Dhabi, and specifically Yas Island, dating back to its first live event there in 2010. Flash Entertainment, an Abu Dhabi entity, at one point held a 10% stake in the UFC before the company’s $4 billion sale in 2016. The UFC has held three events at Yas Island and, in 2019, signed a five-year deal to hold annual cards there.
The most recent UFC event on Yas Island was UFC 242 in September, headlined by a lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier.
The UFC was forced to postpone six scheduled events in March, April and May because of the coronavirus, but has returned to a consistent schedule since its return on May 9 in Florida. The company promoted three events in a span of eight days in Florida and has since promoted two more over the past two weeks in Las Vegas.
White also said on First Take that Stipe Miocic will fight Daniel Cormier for a third time Aug. 15, although a venue has not yet been set. The pair split their first two bouts.
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