Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) fights Conor McGregor during the UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena last year. The Russian will defend his lightweight world title against Poirier of the US. Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Abu Dhabi: The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi have announced a groundbreaking new partnership to bring UFC events to the emirate for the next five years, beginning with UFC 242 on September 7.

UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi, the promotion’s first since 2014, will air live on global broadcasters and Pay-Per-View.

The bouts are still to be confirmed, but it expected that Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his lightweight world title against interim champion Dustin Poirier of the USA. The September card and all subsequent events over the next five years will be headlined by at least one championship fight.

“Abu Dhabi is now firmly established as a unique tourism destination which offers a diverse mix of activities and initiatives that cater to all kinds of audience and visitors,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, DCT Abu Dhabi.

“UFC will become a key component of Abu Dhabi’s thriving events calendar for the next five years, which is already packed full of not only great sporting events, but also cultural, arts and entertainment offerings as well. This spectacular mixed martial arts event, which has a huge following around the world, will bring heightened impetus to visitation in the third quarter for the emirate and will no doubt boost incoming tourist numbers as fight fans across the world gather in Abu Dhabi.”

UFC President Dana White also revealed they are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi as they see lot of potential for great success here.

“The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE,” he said. “I’m very excited about this partnership and what it will mean for the growth of this sport and for UFC in the region.”

First event

UFC previously held live events in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and in 2014. UFC made history with its first event, UFC 112®: INVINCIBLE, on April 10, 2010, as it was the promotion’s first held outdoors. To stage the event, UFC built an open-air arena on Yas Island adjacent to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. UFC returned to Abu Dhabi on April 11, 2014, as the promotion hosted UFC® FIGHT NIGHT: NOGUEIRA vs. NELSON at du Arena on Yas Island.