UFC Headed Back To Fight Island
The first rule of Fight Island is that you talk up Fight Island.
The second rule of Fight Island is that if you know what’s good for you, then you go back there.
And that’s exactly what UFC is opting to do.
The promotion announced that the previously homeless UFC 253 card slated for Sept. 26 will be contested in the Flash Forum on what UFC President Dana White has dubbed Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, which in reality is Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
The event is headlined by the world middleweight title bout between unbeaten champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya (19-0) and unbeaten challenger Paulo “The Eraser” Costa (13-0).
“We’re going to be at Fight Island,” White said in a statement he released through ESPN. “Abu Dhabi is going to end up being the fight capital of the world.
“It definitely isn’t Las Vegas.”
USA Still A COVID-19 Hotbed
The UFC had set up camp at its Apex in Las Vegas for the past month but as much as White and U.S. President Donald Trump are still buddies – he recently released a video endorsing Trump for reelection in 2020 – the fact of the matter is that business is business.
And the only business that’s booming in the USA right now is outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. This reality was continuing to make an impact on UFC cards.
Take UFC Vegas 5 (also known as UFC Fight Night 173 and UFC on ESPN+ 31) on Aug. 1. Eleven bouts on the card that night were canceled. Three of them were lost from the fight card due to competitors testing positive for COVID-19.
After eight cancelations from UFC Vegas 9, just seven bouts went ahead. White and UFC couldn’t allow this to continue.
A Fighting Chance
UFC previously set up camp on Fight Island for the month of July. Four fight cards were contested over that time period. This stretch was highlighted by UFC 251 and its trio of title fights.
If there’s one thing the UFC learned from its July Fight Island experiment, it was that they were on to something really good.
The isolation of the island created a splendid environment to contest bouts. No one was allowed to embark to the island until they were tested and shown to be COVID-19 negative. And once they set foot on the island, there was no leaving until following the completion of fight night.
This bubble environment has worked for both the NBA and NHL in their respective playoffs and it worked for UFC.
It only makes sense to return to such a secure setting.
“A lot of the big fights that are international are going to be on Fight Island,” White confirmed.
Five For Fight Island
UFC 253 will kick off a five-card segment on the island in the United Arab Emirates. Besides the Adesanya-Costa tilt, there’s also the Dominick Reyes-Jan Blachowicz scrap for the world light-heavyweight title on that card.
UFC Fight Night 179: Holm vs Aldana will go on Fight Island on Oct. 4. That will be followed on Oct. 11 by UFC Fight Night 180. Next to be carded in Abu Dhabi is UFC Fight Night 181: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie. That event is slated for Oct. 18.
Finally on Oct. 24, the latest run of MMA cards at Fight Island will conclude with an epic UFC 254 card. The main event will feature the world lightweight unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Justin Gaethje.
Adesanya’s Dream Sequence
Adesanya began campaigning to combat Costa on Fight Island back in the spring, long before anyone knew whether the Fight Island concept would even fly.
He described it as his Mortal Kombat fight and even envisioned how it would all go down. Just call the man a visionary.
“I like ‘Fight Island,’” Adesanya said, explaining the concept to MMA Junkie . “The movie, like the cinema I have in my head – because I’m the protagonist, right, and Costa would be the antagonist in the end of this movie – and to finish it off on ‘Fight Island,’ that just seems like some ‘Mortal Kombat’ type of (expletive).
“It’s just like, you couldn’t have scripted it any better.”