UAE Warriors returns as 'number one launch pad' for MMA fighters

Zayed Sports City to host 20th edition of tournament next month

The UAE Warriors will celebrate its 20th edition when international combat sport resumes in the country next month.

The UAE Warriors 19 Arabia 3 is set for June 18 followed by the UAE Warriors 20 (international) the next day, both at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena at Zayed Sports City.

The UAE Warriors held back-to-back events for the first time in March and Fouad Darwish, managing director of Palms Sports, is proud of the work done so far .

“What’s significant is Saturday [June 19] is going to be our 20th event. We have done 16 competitions since Palms Sports took over and rebranded what was earlier the Abu Dhabi Warriors," Darwish told The National.

“Even with the pandemic we were able to stage our shows and we have also increased our reach globally, and significantly.

“In less than three years we were able to secure live coverage of our shows to over 30 countries across the world on TV, and also different networks on social media and dot com TVs.”

Palms Sports took over the promotion in January 2019, which is now widely regarded as a launch pad for fighters to enter UFC and Bellator, two of the biggest mixed martial art promotions in the USA.

The first to enter UFC through the UAE Warriors was the Tunisian Mounir Lazzez who made a wining debut at the Fight Island on Yas Island on July 15, 2020.

“Under the Palms Sports management we have seen eight fighters enter UFC and five in Bellator, which really is a big number,” Darwish said.

“It started from Lazzez in UAE Warriors 8 and thereafter we have had a regular intake from the editions that followed.

“In January UFC president Dana White attended the UAE Warriors 15 as a guest. He then made an assurance and took two more of our fighters.”

The UAE Warriors signed five fighters on long-term contracts in March, which was a first in the history of the promotion.

“We are becoming a destination for fighters from all over the world and we want to become the number one launch pad in the industry,” Darwish said.

“There are so many requests from fighters and we want to be able to welcome as many talents as we can, not to mention that we have signed several fighters and continue signing more.

“That is our obligation to the fighters and the obligation to combat sports fans in the UAE and around the world. We have a clause that they can leave if they are picked for UFC and Bellator.”

Abu Dhabi Warriors was founded in 2012 and the promotion managed only four shows in six years. One of Darwish’s first task was to personally detail the production of the rebranded UAE Warriors show.

“Nobody paid much attention to Abu Dhabi Warriors and we needed it to be rebranded and we were able to present a world class production in the first year,” the Canadian added.

“From then onwards, we have seen the UAE Warriors go from strength-to-strength. We have completed 16 shows since the promotion came under Palms Sports in 2019. Our objective is to continue to grow and we really do.”

Published: May 9, 2021 03:30 PM

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