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Abu Dhabi’s new Etihad Arena to open with fans in attendance for UFC fights

Abu Dhabi’s new Etihad Arena to open with fans in attendance for UFC fights
January 8, 2021

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena will open for its inaugural events later this month with a limited number of fans in attendance for three UFC fight cards - the first time UFC events will be open to any spectators since UFC 248 in March last year in the USA.

With the Emirate having staged UFC cards on its ‘Fight Island’ during September and October last year, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism’s announcement marks part of its ongoing relationship with the (UFC) Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The latest UFC live event series will commence with the third instalment of the Fight Island series on Yas Island, featuring three events in seven days at the new Etihad Arena.

UFC Fight Night cards will be held on 16th and 20th January 16 and 20, culminating with UFC 257 featuring Conor McGregor against Dustin Poirier on 24th January.

Events will move from Yas Island’s Flash Forum to the more spacious Etihad Arena but with only 2,000 fans in the 18,000 capacity venue.

Commenting on the events, UFC President, Dana White said in a statement "I'm pumped to start the year with a straight week of great fights - Saturday, Wednesday and Sunday - for fight fans all over the world with Fight Island Triple Header

"Following two highly-successful editions of UFC Fight Island and the recent Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to host major international events in a safe and secure environment this year."

In December, the Department of Culture and Tourism announced the reopening of the Emirate to tourism, as well as a gradual return to event hosting, with strict guidelines in place that seek to ensure the safety of the local community.

To align with these guidelines, the athletes, coaches, UFC staff and resort employees will again be in a safe zone on Yas Island for this month’s events. There will also be additional restricted zones which will allow for fans to safely attend.

Welcoming the events, Ali Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi, explained “a third staging of UFC Fight Island in January not only cements Abu Dhabi’s standing as a world-class global destination for sport, but as one of the safest.

“Following the reopening of our Emirate to international tourism, we are delighted to welcome fans to Etihad Arena, our new world-class events and entertainment venue on Yas Island. Abu Dhabi’s collaborative and coordinated response in tackling the spread of the coronavirus has inspired pioneering health measures to ensure a safe and secure environment.

“The UFC Fight Island Triple Header on Yas Island this month will once again shine the spotlight on why the UAE is the world’s coolest winter destination, where visitors to Abu Dhabi can safely experience the emirate’s rich and diverse mix of culture, entertainment and lifestyle attractions.”

Images: UFC Fight Island (top, courtesy of UFC) and the concept for the new Etihad Arena (below, courtesy of Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism)

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