When Flash Entertainment, owned by the Abu Dhabi government, bought a 10 percent stake in Zuffa, the UFC's parent company, it was decided the organization would hold a fight card on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. That card ended up being UFC 112: "Invincible."
Now, just shy of one year later, they're coming back.
According to MMA Weekly, Abu Dhabi will host UFC 128, an as yet announced card in March of next year (2011) that will potentially feature Light-Heavyweight Champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua defending his title against "Suga" Rashad Evans in the main event.
"Shogun" has been out with a knee injury since definitively taking the strap off Lyoto Machida at UFC 113 back in May of this year (2010). His absence, and perceived lack of a timetable for his return, has caused a bit of a stir with his challenger.
Looks like Evans doesn't have to worry anymore and can resume his quest for a second championship.
The UFC's first trip to the Middle East was an unmitigated disaster. Originally thought to be a stacked card with what amounted to a triple main event, the show started strong but faded into oblivion as the high profile fighters took the stage.
Matt Hughes took on Renzo Gracie in what many considered to be a squash match. The former Welterweight Champion battered the Gracie jiu-jitsu specialist before the fight was mercifully stopped towards the end of the third round.
In a bout that was largely overshadowed by what occurred directly after it, the thought to be untouchable, at least at 155-pounds, Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn lost his belt in what was considered at the time to be a monumental upset to the small but effective Frankie Edgar. By the end of the night, it would become the secondary story.
The main event was the one of the most bizarre fights in recent memory. Anderson Silva defended his long held middleweight championship against late replacement Demian Maia. Originally scheduled to face Vitor Belfort, Silva, for whatever reason, decided to showboat and dance around the cage throughout the five round contest.
At one point he even comically hid behind the referee.
The fans in attendance, not to mention those at home, were furious with the champion and roundly booed his lackluster performance. He would go on to redeem himself at UFC 117 against Chael Sonnen but he certainly played a big part in the bad taste left in the mouth of the fans in the Middle East.
Now it appears "Shogun" Rua and Rashad Evans will get the chance to put on a show for the 205-pound title next March.
UFC 128 has not been announced by the promotion but keep it locked here at MMAMania.com for more updates on this event as they become available.