Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 30 October 2020

Warriors 11 in Abu Dhabi to lead the way as sport returns to UAE

A 10-fight card will be the first sporting event since coronavirus lockdown

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Seb Eubank wins against Emaad Hanbali during the UAE Warriors Fighting Championship at Mubadala Arena, Zayed Sports City. Khushnum Bhandari for The Nationa
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Seb Eubank wins against Emaad Hanbali during the UAE Warriors Fighting Championship at Mubadala Arena, Zayed Sports City. Khushnum Bhandari for The Nationa

The UAE Warriors 11 on June 12 will be the first sporting event to be held in the Emirates since the country went into a lockdown in March following the Covid-19 outbreak.

A 10-fight card Mixed Martial Art event at the Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi will be held behind closed doors but live on television and YouTube, according to Fouad Darwish, general manager of Palms Sports.

“We want to partake in our role in bringing normality to the UAE,” Darwish told The National.

“Yes, we are all cognisant on the dangers of this virus but the UAE’s leadership has provided us with all possible support, and provided all the precautions and pre-emptive logistics available in the world to resume our activities.

“They have inclined all the residents to become more contactable. We want to represent the UAE in the best way we can.

“There will be no audience at the venue but we have an audience that will watch all the actions on television in and around the country through our live coverages.”

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - April 15, 2019: Fouad Darwish, general manager of Plams Sports. The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2019 press conference. Monday the 15th of April 2019. Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Fouad Darwish, general manager of Plams Sports. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The fight-card will be broadcast live on Abu Dhabi Sports along with several affiliated YouTube channels.

“We have received a lot of interest from China and Latin America to air the UAE Warriors fight-card live,” Darwish said. “Talks are ongoing with some of the channels in China and Latin American.”

Founded in 2012, the UAE Warriors was relaunched in January 2019 under the revamped Palms Sports management, and since then, they have staged six fight cards, the last in January.

“This is an event re-born 16 months ago and out of which four months have been already hit by the coronavirus pandemic,” Darwish added.

“We have had a pretty good audience since the relaunch of the UAE Warriors. It usually takes three to four years for an event like this to get international coverage but we are already in it.

“We staged six fight cards already and we are already finalising our 12th edition for July as we talk.”

The 11th edition of the series is set to be the first major sports event since the nationwide precautionary lockdown.

“The organising committee has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all fighters and staff participating in the event,” Darwish explained.

“Such measures include that, for the first time in the history of the series, an event will be held without audience.”

A number of precautions are being implemented in preparation, including three Covid-19 tests on all participants (fighters, coaches and technical and administrative staff), the first of which took place on May 27. All tested negative and were cleared to take part.

Two more tests are scheduled for June 5 and June 9. Additionally, the fighters, coaches and staff have been in an isolation camp since May 27, with minimal interaction with outsiders.

This edition is set to feature 10 bouts between 20 top-tier fighters from Arab, Asian and European countries, all of whom are UAE-based, thus eliminating the need to travel from abroad in light of the current international restrictions.

Updated: June 1, 2020 01:56 PM

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