Sports

UFC to stage series of four events on UAE’s Yas Island

Mixed martial arts supremo Dana White said on Tuesday his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will stage a series of bouts on Yas Island, United Arab Emirates, next month to ease travel headaches for international fighters.

White told ESPN that the UFC would host four events on what he dubbed "Fight Island", because of coronavirus travel restrictions to the United States which have complicated scheduling of international cards.

The four fight cards will take place on July 11, 15, 18 and 25, and will include several championship bouts.

UFC fighters will be housed in a "safety zone" which is open only to athletes, coaches, UFC staff and personnel.

"We're literally just going to Yas Island right now to pull off these fights, because the hardest thing to do right now is to get people into the country from other parts of the world," White told ESPN.

"And we are a true global business; we're the only ones that are pulling off live sports right now. And if I continue to do fights in the United States, I'm gonna burn out all my American talent. So now we've got Yas Island ready to go; it's set up."

Fighters will train in an octagon set up on the beach, he added.

UFC has held events in the UAE before, staging a card on Yas Island last September.

The UFC's scheduling was thrown into disarray earlier this year as the Covid-19 crisis unfolded, with six events in March, April and last month all postponed.

The circuit has since returned to activity with a series of cards in Florida and Las Vegas held behind closed doors. - AFP

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)