Dana White: UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi will be 'hopping again' after US vaccine mandate

New regulation means international athletes planning to compete in United States must be fully vaccinated to gain entry to country

UFC President Dana White says he will fly to Abu Dhabi next week. Getty Images
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Dana White says Fight Island in Abu Dhabi may well become even more integral to the UFC following the new government vaccine mandate in the United States.

On Tuesday, the world’s lead mixed martial arts promotion sent a memo to its international fighters informing them of the latest requirement in the US for foreign entrants to have already had the Covid-19 vaccine.

Under the new regulation, any athlete who plans to travel to the States to compete must be fully vaccinated to gain entry to the country, together with their corner and teammates.

With the UFC priding itself on its multinational roster, promotion president White said early on Wednesday that he might have to look into staging more events outside of America, with Fight Island in Abu Dhabi an obvious destination.

Designed originally to allow the UFC’s international athletes to compete during the pandemic, there have been three Fight Island series in the capital since its inaugural run in July last year. The most recent fell in January. In all, Fight Island has comprised 12 events, four of which have been the promotion's marquee pay-per-view events.

The UFC is back in Abu Dhabi next week, for the standalone UFC 267, which appeared to mark a return to the original five-year agreement signed between the two parties in April 2019. That stated that Abu Dhabi would host one major event per year through to 2023.

However, when asked after the latest Dana White Contender Series in Las Vegas about the new mandate, White told reporters: “I’ve been telling you guys through this whole [pandemic]. You’re like, ‘Hey, what about this, what about that?’ I said I have no idea how all this nuttiness is going to play out, but here we go.

“I don’t know. I think Fight Island is going to be hopping again.”

On whether the latest development meant he would lean more on Abu Dhabi, White added: “Yeah, we’re looking to do more events [there]. I’m going to Abu Dhabi next Wednesday, so I have a lot of meetings out there.

"I’ve been dying to walk you guys through what’s been going on in Abu Dhabi anyways, so this trip I’ll get everything done, buttoned up and finished and come back and walk you guys through it.”

White said he hoped to announce those plans for Abu Dhabi during UFC 268 fight week in New York, which culminates at Madison Square Garden on November 6 (November 7 in UAE). UFC 267, meanwhile, takes place at Etihad Arena on October 30 and features two title bouts.

UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi - in pictures

Updated: October 20, 2021, 10:51 AM