Dana White Thinks A Future UFC Champion Will Come From The Middle East
Think that this week’s Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier scrap at UFC 242 could be a flash in the pan? Think again as UFC president, Dana White, is expecting big things from the UAE.
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 biggest stars in MMA due to meet at UFC 242, White stressed that more big-name 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, which is organising Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, a seven-day festival of lifestyle and entertainment events, to complement UFC 242 on September 7.
“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.
However, White sees more scope here than simply in the ability to put on a week’s great entertainment.
“Me, 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.”
As for athletes from the UAE and across the Middle East appearing on UFC fight cards – and claiming UFC belts – well that’s part of the plan, too.
“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.”