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UFC sets up Fight Island in United Arab Emirates

While some fans had expected something more like Gilligan’s Island, the UFC confirmed Tuesday that its much-ballyhooed Fight Island is Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

Yas Island, which occupies 25 square kilometres, is a tourist attraction that has hosted Formula One’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. It is located 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The UFC has been touting Fight Island for weeks as a place to bring its international fighters who face travel restrictions getting to the U.S. because of the pandemic.

UFC plans four events on Yas Island: UFC 251 on July 11 followed by three televised events on July 15, 18 and 25. The MMA organization did not provide any fight card details.

The UFC says there will be a “safety zone” within the island — featuring an arena, hotel, training facilities and restaurants — that will be restricted to UFC athletes and coaches, UFC staff and other event personnel, and essential Yas Island employees.

“We came up with the idea of having fights on ‘Fight Island’ because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement.

“Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past 10 years and it is the perfect place for these events. The infrastructure we are building will be such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters that’s never been done before — from the arena, the private training facility, and the Octagon on the island.

“It’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget. I can’t wait to deliver amazing fights from Yas island.”

While the UFC had been close-mouthed about the Fight Island location prior to Tuesday, featherweight Herbert (The Blaze) Burns gave the game away after his win over Evan Dunham on Saturday in Las Vegas, saying it was in Abu Dhabi.

The UFC held events in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and 2014, including its first-ever outdoor event (UFC 112).

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