Abu Dhabi: UFC President Dana White has said the “close connection” between the world’s leading MMA franchise and Abu Dhabi will continue to see the UAE capital host ‘big fights’ in the next few years.
With two of the biggest stars in MMA due to meet at UFC 242: Khabib versus Poirier, White stressed that more mega bouts are destined for Abu Dhabi in coming years as part of the organisation’s five-year partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), which is organising Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, a seven-day festival of lifestyle and entertainment events, to complement UFC 242.
“We have a really close connection with Abu Dhabi because we’ve already been there a few times, and the fights we’ve done there before,” said White. “The people of the UAE have been so good to the UFC. We are going to continue to come back and bring big fights to the Middle East.”
The Abu Dhabi Showdown Week programme includes a two-night concert series featuring American rock legends the Red Hot Chili Peppers and reggaeton superstar J Balvin, as well as other major international musicians and DJs playing at pool, beach and after parties.
During Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, eight UFC guest fighters will also conduct numerous activations for fans at 10 Abu Dhabi malls, while there will be numerous accompanying retail and food and beverage promotions around the city.
“I am looking forward to the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Wednesday (4 September) and I am looking forward to the fight on Saturday (7 September),” said White. “On top of that, Abu Dhabi is a very cool city and I have a lot of things lined up to do during the week.
“I, Matt Serra and Din Thomas are going to cruise around and basically do an episode of Looking for a Fight, but the fight will actually be the Khabib fight. So, we are going to do all the cool things that the city has to offer.”
White also believes that it will not be too long until athletes from the UAE and across the Middle East start appearing on UFC fight cards – and claiming UFC belts.
“Since we have done events in Abu Dhabi, and it happens everywhere we go, it kick-starts the market, gyms pop up and people are training. Talent is coming out of the area,” said White.
“I won’t be surprised — I said this about England, I said this about Australia, Canada and every country we have gone to — there will be a champion from the Middle East probably within the next six to seven years.”