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9 Jun, 2020 16:32

UFC reveals Abu Dhabi as host of Dana White's 'Fight Island', Volkanovski-Holloway rematch to headline first fight card

UFC reveals Abu Dhabi as host of Dana White's 'Fight Island', Volkanovski-Holloway rematch to headline first fight card

The UFC has revealed the first details of the mysterious 'Fight Island' project, with Abu Dhabi announced as the host city for a series of fight cards which will kick off on July 11 with a featherweight world title rematch.

The UFC had remained steadfastly tight-lipped about details surrounding Dana White's pet project but finally broke its silence on Tuesday afternoon, announcing that Abu Dhabi will play host to four fight cards taking place in a two-week span. 

The residency will begin with a 145lbs title rematch on July 11 between Alexander Volkanovski and the man he dethroned to take that title, Max Holloway. A welterweight title bout between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns is also expected to take place at the event.

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Further fight cards are scheduled to take place on July 15, 18 and 25. The first event, UFC 251, will be a pay-per-view event, with the further three designated as 'Fight Night' cards.

The events will take place on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, a place described by a UFC rep as "one of the emirate’s most popular leisure, shopping and entertainment destinations." 

The concept of Fight Island was first aired by White in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused an immediate standstill for most major global sports, with the idea designed as a method to bypass travel restrictions introduced by various authorities. 

As the UFC President explains, "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. Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past ten 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. I can’t wait to deliver amazing fights from Yas island."

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In a bid to ensure the safety of fighters and their training staff, the UFC, in keeping with existing public health guidelines, will institute a ten-square-mile 'safety zone' around the fight arena, hotel and training facilities. As with recent events in the United States, these events will not be open to the public. 

Elaborating further to TMZ, White said that there will also be stringent Covid-19 tests taking place.

"Lots of testing, lots of quarantining and lots of fighting," he said, also confirming that Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo will take place on the card, along with a bout between former champions Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade.