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UFC’s Abu Dhabi Fight Nights ‘absolutely a win’

UFC’s Abu Dhabi Fight Nights ‘absolutely a win’
July 24, 2020

The UFC’s inaugural Fight Island events in Abu Dhabi have been “one of the most important moments in the promotion’s history” according to UFC Senior Vice President David Shaw.

With the series having concluded last Sunday with UFC Fight Night 3 - following four events across a two-week period at Yas Island’s Flash Forum, Shaw described the concept as "absolutely a win", noting “when we look back at the Fight Island experience after five or 10 years, we are going to say this was one of the most important moments in the UFC's history.

“In my view this is one of the most progressive and ambitious endeavours we have ever undertaken. This will have a long-lasting impact not only for our brand, but for the sport. This is a pretty important catalyst that's going to help propel mixed martial arts in the region for many years to come.

“So great success all round. I believe our partners, the Department of Culture and Tourism, believe so as well. But overall, from (UFC President) Dana (White) all the way to our groups, everyone feels this was a massive success. It took a hell of a lot of work to get Fight Island together - many months of planning and execution - and we couldn’t have done it without our partners at the Abu Dhabi Government."

Commencing on 12th July with UFC 251, Fight Island events were housed in an 11-kilometre safe zone, with upwards of 2,000 people on site. More than 17,000 Covid-19 tests were said to have been administered.

An “extension” of the five-year deal signed between the Abu Dhabi Government and the UFC, the event may be staged again, with Shaw telling Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, Shaw advised “given the current state of the coronavirus in the US and many countries around the world, travel restrictions are not our friend. We’re going to continue to look at opportunities around the world. Perhaps it makes sense to come back, but we’re not resting our laurels on this as the only opportunity. There has to be other opportunities for us.

“You need a very committed and willing partner, you need a partner that is going to invest in the operational and the infrastructure to make it happen. As stringent and rigourous as the testing procedures are, those don’t exist everywhere, so we’ve got to make these decisions very carefully as we look to other options.”

The UFC will relocate back to its base in the US city of Las Vegas until midway through September at least, with ongoing shows planned for next month.

The National earlier this month suggested that all the UFC’s main international fights would take place in Abu Dhabi for the foreseeable future.

Images: Abu Dhabi's Flash Forum ready to host UFC 251 (top) and a promotional cage for the event on a Yas Island beach (below).

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