On Sunday night, UFC representatives made it official that the premier mixed martial arts promotion have come to a deal with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism that will see one event there per year, with at least one title bout.
This goes hand in hand with the UFC’s upcoming return to Abu Dhabi in September for UFC 242, which many believe will be headlined by a lightweight championship unification fight between lightweight title holder Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier.
A venue for the event has not yet been announced. In the UFC’s last two trips to Abu Dhabi in 2010 and 2014, Yas Island’s Concert Arena and du Arena played host respectively. The first event in Abu Dhabi was UFC 112. A show that saw Anderson Silva successfully defend his middleweight strap against highly skilled grappler, Demian Maia. In the co-main, Frankie Edgar surprised BJ Penn by taking his lightweight belt via unanimous decision.
The second event in Abu Dhabi was held four years later, when “Big Country” Roy Nelson took on Antonio Noguiera in the fight night main event. Nelson would earn Performance of the Night honors for his first round knockout of “Big Nog”.
The UFC President looks forward to the partnership with Abu Dhabi and looks to find further success in the region. In the UFC’s official press release, Dana White said:
“We are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi because we have had great success in that market. The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT (Department of Culture and Tourism) Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE. I’m very excited about this partnership and what it will mean for the growth of this sport and for UFC in the region.”