UFC’s Fight Island hosting events and providing entertainment amid pandemic

A string of fights have taken place so far and Fight Island seems to be delivering on its promise.

Kamaru+Usman

TNS

Kamaru Usman

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter


UFC president Dana White has never been one to shy away from big decisions.

The ultimate salesman, he has always made the choice he felt was best for his business. That’s why, when he first hinted at buying his own island to host fights on during the COVID-19 pandemic, most fans thought it could happen. And when he pulled the trigger, not buying but “securing” an island to host Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts, UFC’s followers were not shocked.

The island, far from what some first thought (fights on the beach surrounded by palm trees) is called Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and has hosted UFC events before. The manmade piece of land in the Persian Gulf is actually a major tourist destination with three theme parks as well as an airport, seven hotels, a golf course, and an arena where the UFC fights are currently being held.

Back when he initially hatched the idea of Fight Island, White said that his primary reason was to make it easier for international fighters to compete.

Although Fight Island has removed some of the travel restrictions brought on by COVID-19 fears, the UFC has created a bubble for its competitions with safety as the top priority.

According to a CBS Sports article published prior to the first event, fighters and their camps travel to and fly out of one of four hub cities to travel to Abu Dhabi. Those hub cities are Las Vegas, London, Sao Paulo, and Moscow. For any fighter unable to travel to one of those cities, the UFC states that special accommodations will be made.

Before taking a flight, fighters and their camps must submit a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to departure.

“Fighters will again be tested upon arrival in Abu Dhabi and will quarantine in their hotel rooms for up to 12 hours while waiting for the result of their test,” CBS Sports’ Brent Brookhouse reported July 11. “Another test will be conducted in the hotel room following receiving the result of that test. One final pre-fight test will be conducted ahead of the fight and fighters will be tested one final time before their return flight home.”

The UFC has already hosted three fight-nights on the island and is set for a fourth on July 25.

On July 11, the first night of fights, three title bouts took place. Kamaru Usman defeated Jorge Masvidal via decision for the welterweight title, Alexander Volkanovski beat Max Holloway by decision for the Featherweight championship, and Petr Yan knocked out Jose Aldo for the bantamweight crown.

Four days later, the second night consisted of five “main card fights,” this time with no championships up for grabs. In the headlining fight, Calvin Kattar defeated Dan Ige by decision in a featherweight bout.

Then, on July 18, in the only title bout, Deiveson Figueiredo won over Joseph Benavidez via submission near the end of the first round the claim the flyweight title.

Next, on July 25, middleweights Robert Whittaker and Darren Till will clash to headline another night on Fight Island.

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