With the United States continuing to see troubling numbers of Coronavirus cases and deaths, it should be no surprise that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is keeping its back up location for international fights ready to go.
There’s been a pretty high amount of positive COVID-19 tests and fight fallouts for this month’s batch of events held in Las Vegas, Nevada, proving that staging live events stateside is a less than ideal to be bringing fighters from less ravaged countries to compete. We just kind of assumed “Fight Island” (a.k.a. Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, would make it back on the schedule sooner rather than later.
And now Dana White has confirmed with ESPN that many major fights involving foreign athletes will end up in United Arab Emirates.
“A lof of the big fights that are international are going to be on Fight Island,” White announced in a statement to Sports Center. “I told everybody the last time we were there, people sort of thought this was a one-and-done or whatever. It’s not. We’re going to be at Fight Island. Abu Dhabi is going to end up being the fight capital of the world. It definitely isn’t Las Vegas.”
UFC 252 on Aug. 15, 2020, is set for UFC APEX in Las Vegas, but this announcement all but confirms that UFC 253 on Sept. 19, 2020, featuring Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa for the Middleweight strap will be in Abu Dhabi. Also likely to take place on “Fight Island:” UFC 254 on Oct. 24, 2020, featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje. Khabib just revealed that three of his fellow Dagestani teammates will also be competing on the card, so that just cements the card even more as one of White’s “big international fights.”
As for UFC 255, currently set for Nov. 21, 2020, and headlined by a Flyweight title bout between Deiveson Figueiredo and former Bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt? Location-wise it makes sense to have that one in “Sin City,” but we imagine it’ll really depend on how the United States is doing. If things take a turn for the worse there’s a very good chance Nevada’s athletic commission will go ahead and shut the entire state down for combat sports.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.