Dubai: The UFC returns to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi for the second time this year. Here are five things you need to know including testing protocols and travel arrangements.
What makes Fight Island special?
Holding MMA events at a private destination ensures that the UFC can implement its well-tested safety measures against COVID-19 together with the help of the Abu Dhabi health authorities. It can totally control movement and who will be allowed inside the Fight Island safe zone. Given Abu Dhabi’s ideal location and support from the Government, international fighters can arrive and depart safely and efficiently.
What is on the schedule?
The first event on the UFC’s second trip to Yas Island will be UFC 253 on September 26 featuring Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa. The promotion will then hold Fight Night events on October 3, 10 and 17. Holly Holm v Irene Aldana will headline the October 3 bill with Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen the main acts on October 11. The October 17 Fight Night will showcase Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung in the main event. The series culminates in UFC 254 on October 24 in a unification bout between UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Interim Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje.
What does Fight Island look like?
The actual fights will take place in an arena called the Flash Forum while a beach Octagon will be used for training and promotional purposes. Fighters will stay in a specific hotel where a ballroom has been converted to a gym — with a 21-person capacity. They will also have a private workout area and sauna in their hotel. Fighters and their camp will only have access to these facilities once they have passed COVID-19 testing. Fighters will also be provided three meals each day.
How does the travel work?
Fighters and their camps will 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. Before taking a flight, fighters and their teams 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. 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.
At what time are the fights?
In order to accommodate the large television audiences due to the pandemic and lack of fans in attendance, the main card start times will be around 6am in the UAE. Prelims will start at 2am.