On June 9, UFC President Dana White announced that the much-anticipated Fight Island will be held on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island on July 11.
One of the biggest pay-per-views of the year will kick off a four-card run on the island. UFC 251 will play host to three title fights on the main card. Champion Kamaru Usman and No. 1-ranked Gilbert Burns will headline the card for the Welterweight title.
In Featherweight, Alexander Volkanovski will defend his belt against No. 1 contender Max Holloway. The third and final title bout of the evening is between No. 3 Petr Yan and No. 6 Jose Aldo for the vacant Bantamweight belt.
Although this is not the UFC’s first event held in Abu Dhabi, this set of fights will be unique due to the current atmosphere surrounding sporting events. No other major American sports leagues are currently active in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. None except the UFC. Volkanovski knows how special this moment will be.
“…[I]t’s the timing of everything. It’s going to be the first fight on Fight Island, three title fights on this card; this is going to be absolutely huge,” Volkanoski told ESPN. “We still don’t have many sports happening right now, so I’m glad, even though it’s a short-notice fight, that I’m over there and going to be doing my thing.”
After July 11, the UFC will host three more events in the following two weeks. July 15, 18 and 25 will host UFC Fight Nights for fans around the world watching from home.
“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,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement put out by the UFC. “Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past ten years and it is the perfect place for these events.”
Whether or not the fights live up to the hype, this Fight Island will find itself part of sports history.
“It’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget,” White said in that statement. “I can’t wait to deliver amazing fights for Yas Island.”
Yas Island is not a private island owned by the UFC, so they still must follow local precautions and laws regarding the operations of Fight Island.
“We have worked closely to with all government entities in Abu Dhabi ensure that the staging of this historic event complies with the highest standards of safety for the athletes, coaches, and all UFC personnel as well as the safety of our community,” HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mudarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said in that same statement.
This Fight Island will also offer international fighters the opportunity to compete, even with various COVID-19 restrictions.
Fight Island’s debut will be on July 11 as the UFC will use Yas Island to host one pay-per-view and three fight nights in two weeks.