With more than 2,500 people enclosed, and rigorous Covid-19 protocols in place, the UFC Fight Island “safe zone” is secure and ready to host the inaugural four-event series in Abu Dhabi.
The 11-kilometre stretch on Yas Island will be in effect for the duration of the fight festival, which kicks off at Flash Forum on Sunday with the stacked, pay-per-view UFC 251. Shows follow on July 16, 19 and 26.
The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have put stringent measures in place to ensure the safe running of Fight Island during the coronavirus pandemic, and believe it will open the capital to yet more high-profile events being staged in the UAE later this year.
All Abu Dhabi-based event staff have been quarantining for 14 days in their hotel rooms and have undergone three Covid-19 tests thus far.
Meanwhile, a crew of 740 has constructed the venue and competition area, which is now complete. The area has since been cordoned off and a full santisation is under way.
At Flash Forum, “mist tunnels” have been installed to sanitise everyone entering the arena, while the octagon will be sanitised between all fights and subjected to deep cleaning each night. The other octagon, constructed at Yas Beach “for the fighters’ enjoyment”, will undergo the same sanitisation measures.
“Over the past two weeks, we’ve been very busy building a safe and secure zone to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi and, in turn, kick-start international sport and entertainment events again," said Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi. "The area of the ‘safe zone’ aims to ensure we can provide a secure environment to host elite sport, but also protect our wider Abu Dhabi community.
“This event is important to us for many reasons as it allows us to begin the process of bringing back sports and tourism to Abu Dhabi. It signals our readiness to once again host international events and provides us with a learning opportunity to improve and adapt, and efficiently prepare for the scheduled events ahead of us this year.
Spectacular images show UFC takeover of Yas Island
“I would like to also extend my gratitude to the 1,678 Abu Dhabi event staff who have spent 14 days in hotel room isolation as part of our safety protocol. Their passion and commitment to this event represents our eagerness as a community to bring our much-loved events and tourists back to Abu Dhabi, safely and securely.”
UFC 251 will now be headlined by welterweight champion Kamaru Usman's defence against Jorge Masvidal, who was confirmed on Monday as a late replacement for Gilbert Burns. The Brazilian tested positive for Covid-19 before leaving the United States for Abu Dhabi.
Two other world title fights feature on the card, with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski's rematch against Max Holloway, and Petr Yan clashing with Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight crown.