The UFC has confirmed its return to Abu Dhabi next month with a third Fight Island series, featuring three events in eight days and culminating with Conor McGregor’s long-awaited comeback at UFC 257.
While the promotion’s upcoming run in the capital had been expected, UFC president Dana White announced the news on social media on Tuesday night.
White uploaded a fight poster to his Instagram Stories confirming Yas Island as the location for two Fight Nights, on January 16 and 20, and UFC 257 on January 23. It is understood that the final event will fall early January 24 in the UAE.
The UFC has yet to announce a venue – both previous Fight Island residencies played out at Flash Forum – but the newly built Etihad Arena is expected to host.
Fight Island 3 will kick off with an event headlined by former featherweight champion Max Holloway against Calvin Kattar, while the second Fight Night will feature at the top of its card a mouthwatering welterweight clash between No 3-ranked challenger Leon Edwards and the fast-rising Khamzat Chimaev.
The UFC’s latest series will conclude with McGregor's rematch against Dustin Poirier, which takes place at lightweight.
The Irishman, a former two-division champion and arguably the biggest draw in mixed martial arts, has not fought since last January. Poirier, meanwhile, has competed in Abu Dhabi once before, losing his lightweight unification bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in September last year.
Earlier this month, McGregor's management said the 32-year-old was looking better in training than he had for almost a decade. Speaking to The National, Audie Attar, founder and CEO of Paradigm Sports Management, said: "I've never seen Conor like this. It's about the challenge, the competition, being the best version of ourselves. And that's fun for me to see. The skill level is on another level."
McGregor marked his comeback to the sport in January following a 14-month hiatus when he defeated Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds at UFC 246 in Las Vegas. However, frustrated with a lack of attractive options offered to him by the UFC, in June he announced his retirement. It was the third time in four years that McGregor said he was stepping away.
The UFC’s initial two Fight Island runs took place in July and then in September though to October, featuring four and five events respectively.
Holloway, Kattar and Chimaev have all previously fought on Fight Island, with the latter creating history in July by winning consecutive bouts 10 days apart - his first two appearances in the promotion.