Speculation about the UFC’s “Fight Island” has been ongoing since early March, when White was frantically trying to secure a venue for the Lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
Now, after months of wrangling and several fight cards held behind closed doors, the UFC has revealed that fights will begin with UFC 251 on July 11 followed by three further UFC Fight Nights on July 15, 18 and 25.
Yas Island hosted its first fight in a five-year deal with the UFC in September 2019 when Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Dustin Poirier to retain his lightweight title.
While the fights themselves will be closed to the public, they will be streamed across the world. In the United Arab Emirates they will be available via UFC Arabia.
UFC 251 will be headlined by Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, with the Welterweight title fight on the line. The rest of the card is stacked high though, with fights between Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski, and Jose Aldo and Petr Jan.
There are also big hitting women’s fights on the card, including Amanda Ribas vs Paige Vanzant and Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade.
Further fight cards for the following events are expected in due course, but many people have already begun criticizing Usman’s decision to fight Burns, and with Conor McGregor having announced his retirement this week, it’s a tricky time for the UFC.
They need new stars, or at least, big grudge matches that will appeal to casual as well as die hard fans.
The UFC’s upcoming Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier fight, the final bout in a trilogy, could be exactly what they need. Scheduled for August 15, a venue is yet to be confirmed.