According to a TMZ report in April, UFC President Dana White was looking to host events on a private island. Fast forward to almost two months later and White has already secured a private island to act as the UFC’s home base.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto explained that the fighters will be flown to the island via private planes to compete and added that the “Private island idea is for international fighters, so not only the US-based athletes have a spot to fight.”
Okamoto also tweeted White’s first explanation: “Per Dana White, Fight Island will be operational by June. Octagon on the beach. Hotels for fighters to stay at while they are there. Once things go back to normal, Fight Island will likely get retired, but it’s a real piece of the promotion’s plans.”
White was interviewed by UFC announcer Jon Anik on ESPN and he said that the promotion plans to use Fight Island as a location for future events. White also added that “right now, we’re looking at June, having three or four fights there in a month.”
White appeared on ESPN’s First Take on June 9th and announced that Fight Island will be on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Yas Island occupies a total land area of 2,500 ha (25 km²). This enormous entertainment destination is only 30 minutes from the United Arab Emirates capital. It has been renowned as the home of the Yas Marina Circuit, a renowned Formula 1 race track that holds the annual Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The popular W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island Hotel is at the center of the island. It surrounds the Formula 1 race track and hovers over land and water.
The island also has the Yas Marina, a popular destination for many of the world’s largest superyachts. High-end restaurants and theme parks can also be found, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the first Ferrari-branded theme park in the world, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld.
The much-anticipated events on Fight Island, starting with UFC 251, will take place on July 11th, July 15th, July 18th
While in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a designated island to stage shows appealed to the UFC. The promotion can now organize events at this location and create specific themes.
Dana White Doesn’t Expect Fans at UFC Events for a ‘Very Long Time’
Dana White doesn’t think that Fight Island’s shelf life will last forever. He said in a separate interview with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole that he can’t see fans being able to attend UFC fights anytime soon.
Iole tweeted: “I think one notable quote I got from [Dana White] today is this: ‘I don’t expect to have a [paid] gate for a very long time, so I’ve already thrown that out the window.'”
No one knows how long will COVID-19 last. Or how easy it will be to get venues booked for upcoming UFC events on a regular basis. This makes Fight Island way more important than Dana White ever imagined.