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Dana White: Abu Dhabi is the new fight capital of the world, more title bouts coming to 'Fight Island' in 2020

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to tie a bow on its first set of events to go down on “Fight Island” — which is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — this weekend (Sat., July 25, 2020) with UFC on ESPN 14: “Whittaker vs. Till.”

Okay, so technically the promotion has already been there in the past, but not before the expensive infrastructure makeover and slapping the “Fight Island” tag on it. But this won’t be the last time the promotion visits the island this year because the promotion has plans to stage more big title fights in Abu Dhabi, the place company president Dana White has dubbed the new fight capital of the world.

“The shows that we bring here, this is the only international destination for fights,” White said in an interview with The National (via Bloody Elbow). “So all the biggest and the baddest fights coming up that we have are going to be here.

“If you look at our roster of champions, they’re from all over the world,” he continued. “So the biggest, baddest fights over the next — God knows how long — are going to be here in Abu Dhabi. That’s why I’m saying Abu Dhabi is going to be looked at as the new fight capital of the world. It used to be Las Vegas. It definitely isn’t Las Vegas right now.”

Of course, that tag will be going back to “Sin City” once the COVID-19 pandemic clears up and business returns as usual. But since no one knows when that will be, UFC is happy to have a place locked down for the foreseeable future to run its international business. And “Fight Island” will be home to huge title fights this year, including the return of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Israel Adesanya.

“Khabib will be the next. We’re talking about [Middleweight champion] Israel Adesanya versus Paulo Costa, that fight happening. [Women’s Strawweight champion] Weili Zhang versus Rose Namajunas is a possibility. All the massive, big fights with literally the champion versus the No. 1 contender are all looking like ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi.”

Of course, Khabib was set to return on Sept. 19, but after his father died of COVID-19 complications, “The Eagle” isn’t in a rush to return to action. And the promotion isn’t rushing him back, either. Adesanya is close to finalizing his deal to defend his Middleweight strap against Paulo Costa, which is also tentatively set for the same date.

All that said, the promotion does have an entire month of fights already lined up to go down inside its APEX facility in “Sin City,” starting on Aug. 1 and running through every weekend, up until Aug. 29, 2020.

But if Las Vegas shuts down again, Dana White and Co. are already preparing to possibly bring all five of those events to Abu Dhabi.

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