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No ‘Fight Island’ necessary? United States issues travel exemption for foreign athletes

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For weeks, UFC President Dana White has been teasing “Fight Island,” the mystery location where international fighters will duke it out during these strange, strange Coronavirus times. But it turns out that “Fight Island” may not be needed after all. On Friday the acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security signed an order exempting foreign-born professional athletes from current travel bans into the United States.

“Professional sporting events provide much-needed economic benefits, but equally important, they provide community pride and national unity,” the government’s press release read. “In today’s environment, Americans need their sports. It’s time to reopen the economy and it’s time we get our professional athletes back to work.”

The order specifically named the NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, and tennis with no specific mention of MMA ... what a snub! But, of course, the decision will make things much easier for UFC and Bellator and other organizations to bring worldwide talent into the country to compete. More than 60 percent of the current UFC roster is made up of international fighters, which is a big part of why UFC went ahead and pulled the trigger on getting “Fight Island” up and running to begin with.

But with the United States being so gung-ho about re-opening sports, it seems like “Fight Island” is already obsolete before it’s even up and running. Not that we think it’s going to disappear or anything. UFC has spent too much time trademarking the concept and printing up t-shirts. We hear the broom closet at UFC HQ is already full of Zuffa Boxing merch, so there’s no turning back now.

“Fight Island” ... still super necessary.