UFC president Dan White announced the location of "Fight Island," the mystery venue that will hold future UFC cards during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yas Island, a popular leisure destination in Abu Dhabi that is familiar to sports fans for its Formula 1 circuit race track, will be the site of at least four UFC cards beginning with UFC 251 on July 11.
“We really are putting an Octagon on the beach,” White said in an interview with ESPN. “There's going to be training facilities there for people. There are hotels. And the whole island is going to be built, all the infrastructure is going to be built for the UFC to come to do fights there.”
Here's everything to know about the UFC's "Fight Island":
Where is UFC's Fight Island located?
UFC Fight Island location: Abu Dhabi's Yas Island
On June 9, White revealed the location of Fight Island: Abu Dhabi's Yas Island.
Last September, UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier was held on Yas Island as part of a five-year partnership between the UFC and Abu Dhabi. Bringing Fight Island to Abu Dhabi is an extension of that agreement.
Yas Island has also hosted Formula One's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
What is Fight Island?
The plan for “Fight Island” is to be a location that will host international fights. With travel restrictions preventing fighters from other countries to enter the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, White concocted the idea to hold UFC events on an island to get around those travel issues.
White assures that “Fight Island” would have all of the necessary infrastructures to hold a fight card. Everything from an Octagon and training facilities to internet access and transportation has been factored into this audacious plan.
In a press release, the UFC said there will be a safety zone within the nearly 10-square mile Yas Island that will include an arena, hotel, training facilities, and dining establishments. The safety zone will only be open to UFC athletes and their coaches; UFC staff and other event personnel; and Yas Island employees who are necessary to ensure the operation of the facilities.
“Fight Island” events will take place without fans in attendance.
Why did UFC choose Abu Dhabi?
The UFC forged a relationship with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT - Abu Dhabi) after staging UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier in the country last September.
“We came up with the idea of having fights on Fight Island because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic,” White said in an interview with ESPN. “Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past 10 years and it is the perfect place for these events.
“The infrastructure we are building will be such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters that’s never been done before – from the arena, the private training facility, and the Octagon on the island – it’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget.”
According to Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, executive director of DCT - Abu Dhabi, Yas Island provides everything the UFC needs to host an event in a safe environment."
"We're excited that they chose Abu Dhabi. The government has done a great job managing the effect of Covid-19. The protocols and health and safety measures have kept the people and communities of Abu Dhabi safe," said Al Shaiba in an interview with Time Out Abu Dhabi. "More than 2,500 people will be living, working and relaxing in a section of Yas Island throughout the month-long event."
Al Shaiba added: "They will be inside a 'bubble' for the whole time. Restaurants will be open, some of the beaches will be. They will train there and relax and have fun there."
UFC 251 card
Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Gilbert Burns for the UFC Middleweight Championship
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Max Holloway for the UFC Featherweight Championship
Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship
Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade; Women's Strawweight
Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant; Women's Flyweight
Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz; Featherweight
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiří Procházka; Light Heavyweight
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane; Heavyweight
Fight Island schedule
July 11: UFC 251
July 15: TBD
July 18: TBD
July 25: TBD
Fight Island will open with the UFC 251 pay-per-view event on Saturday, July 11.
Details for each card will be announced in the coming weeks.