UFC president Dana White is committed to holding UFC events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when much of the sporting world was shut down earlier this year, the UFC aggressively sought to find ways to schedule fights.
That led to the launch of events in July in Abu Dhabi for international athletes who couldn't come into the U.S. due to travel restrictions.
That location has been affectionately called "Fight Island," and events will continue there on Sept. 26, with a major PPV event between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa, as well as with UFC 254 between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
Here's everything you need to know about the location where the UFC is hosting international events.
What is UFC Fight Island?
The idea of “Fight Island” originated when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sporting world and left the UFC scrambling for a new location to host UFC 249, which was originally scheduled for April 18 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The highly anticipated event was slated to be headlined by a lightweight title showdown between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson that had been scheduled and canceled for various reasons on four previous occasions — and White insisted this time the fight was going to take place no matter what.
However, with the pandemic spreading, Nurmagomedov would end up stranded in Russia due to a travel ban that saw his country close its borders. Justin Gaethje would step in on short notice, but UFC 249 was still without a location.
White attempted to relocate the event to California but was met with adversity, and he finally postponed UFC 249 after his hand was forced by ESPN and Disney to “stand down.” The event was later rescheduled for May 9 in Jacksonville.
Amidst the scramble to try to keep UFC 249 together, White announced to ESPN that he had secured a private island to stage fights during the pandemic.
The location has been called “Fight Island,” and the UFC moved forward with applying for a patent for it and is selling "Fight Island" merchandise on the official UFC website.
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, White concocted the idea to hold UFC events at the undisclosed location to get around those travel issues.
Yas Island has all of the necessary infrastructures to hold a major event, and White delivered on his promise to have an Octagon on the beach.
In a press release for the events in July, 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.
Where is UFC Fight Island?
- 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.
When will UFC Fight Island open?
Fight Island had its first event on with UFC 251 on July 11. It then had success fight nights on July 15, July 18 and July 25.
Now, UFC is back at Fight Island, for the Adesanya vs. Costa fight for UFC 253 on Sept. 26.
What fights will be at UFC Fight Island?
Fight Island opened with a pay-per-view event, with UFC 251 on Saturday, July 11, with a main card featuring UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal.
It continued with three additional events in July: Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige, Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez and Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till.
Now, UFC is back at Fight Island, with the following events schedule:
- Sept: 26: UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa
- Oct. 3: UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Aldana
- Oct. 10: UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen
- Oct. 17: UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie
- Oct. 24: UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje