UFC boss Dana White speaks in Abu dhabi
UFC boss Dana White speaks in Abu dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

The region’s MMA fans should prepare for “major, massive things” in Abu Dhabi. That was the message from UFC President Dana White to an excited, expectant crowd at the UFC 267 press conference at Etihad Arena.

With a host of fighters from Saturday’s main card behind him on the stage at the Arena, White told the fans: “We have major massive plans for Abu Dhabi. Wait and see. Abu Dhabi has been instrumental in what we have done in the past 10 years and is going to get even more instrumental. Just look at this card. We’ve got the toughest guys from all over the world here. It doesn’t get cooler than that.”

Light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz drew laughs from crowd when he promised main event opponent Glover Teixeira a belated birthday present on Saturday night.

Teixeira turned 42 on Thursday and Blachowicz promised: “I will give you your present on Saturday. It’s not the belt but you will like it!”

To which Teixeira “I’ll look forward to it. He’s a fighter, he’s determined. I’m honoured to be fighting him. We are going to show these kids how to fight,” added the division’s No. 1 contender.

Islam Makachev drew the biggest cheer of the night when he walked out, before proclaiming: “Abu Dhabi is my place, I have a lot of support here,” which drew even bigger cheers

“I have to show my best because I’m very close to the title,” added Russian fighter Makachev, who faces New Zealand’s Dan Hooker in a lightweight fight, looking to make it 10 straight wins.

Hooker, who lost on his last Abu Dhabi appearance, to debutant Michael Chandler back in January, said: “In this game you’ve got to be ready for anything. I’m in enemy territory. I’m sure I’ll have a few people supporting me, I’m here, I’m ready. Just being myself.”

Peter Yan, who faces Corey Sandhagen for the interim bantamweight title in the co-main event on Saturday night after champion Aljamain Sterling withdrew, told fans: “I’m the champion and I will prove it.

Opponent Sandhagen admitted: “I think he does s job defending himself. He wears on people, but we are prepared for that. Me and him are at the top of them UFC for striking and it’s going to be a good fight.”

Sweden’s Khamzat Chimaev, who burst onto the UFC scene with impressive performances on Fight Island in July 2020, drew applause when he brought out his now famous “smesh” (Smash) phrase.

Responding to a question about having a large following in this region, Khamzat said: “I love my fans. I will smesh anything for them.

“I’m going to eat him,” he added, referring to Saturday’s welterweight opponent Li Jianlang, nicknamed ‘The Leech’.

For his part, Li said: “I’m good enough to stand with him. It will be a great fight and that’s what the fans want to see.” Turning to Khamzat, he said: “You may be the wolf, you may be hungry. But I’m the leech, and I’m thirsty.”