UFC returns to Abu Dhabi in October with second Showdown Week

Card and ticket news for UFC 267 yet to be announced but president Dana White says he cannot wait to back in 'incredible' UAE

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The UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi has been confirmed for October, with a second Showdown Week concluding with UFC 267.

The weeklong event and fight night, which will take place on Saturday October 30 at Etihad Arena on Yas Island, was announced on Tuesday and represents a return to the initial five-year agreement signed in 2019 between the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi and the world’s lead mixed martial arts promotion. Since then, the UFC been a regular visitor to the capital, including the hugely successful Fight Island series that launched last year.

The fight card and ticket news for UFC 267 have yet to be announced, although a headline title bout between light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira has been mooted, alongside the bantamweight championship rematch between belt-holder Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. Khamzat Chimaev, one of the stars of UFC last year, is also expected to make his comeback following a protracted battle with Covid-19. However, neither the UFC nor local organisers have confirmed any bouts.

“We are going back to Abu Dhabi in October,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement on Tuesday. “Abu Dhabi is incredible - I love that place and the people. I have been talking about all of the things we are working on.

“I plan on getting all the deals buttoned up this summer. I can’t wait to go back and share everything we are working on together.”

Earlier this month, White said he has “massive, major” plans for the sport in Abu Dhabi, which he hoped to make public after a visit to the emirate in the new few weeks. The UFC’s relationship with Abu Dhabi has strengthened considerably beyond the two parties’ 2019 partnership. Last year, the capital played host to the inaugural Fight Island series, designed by White to allow international athletes to compete during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its introduction in July last summer – the first series comprised four events, beginning with UFC 251 – the promotion has returned for two more residencies. In January, the three-event run concluded with UFC 257, headlined by Conor McGregor’s rematch with Dustin Poirier.

Fight Island 3, which officially opened Etihad Arena, welcomed a limited-capacity crowd for all three fight nights, marking the first time the UFC had staged events with a live audience since the early weeks of the pandemic.

In the release issued on Tuesday, Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director, Tourism and Marketing, at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “This is indeed a truly special milestone for Abu Dhabi and yet another indication of the strength of our partnership with UFC, as well as Abu Dhabi's readiness to host momentous sporting events.

“Following the success of the previous Fight Island editions, the ultimate goal was always to bring back fans. And with hard work, collaboration and coordination across Abu Dhabi government entities, public and private sectors and our UFC partners, we will be able to achieve this once again, allowing fans to experience the thrill of live events once again in a safe and secure environment, which remains our utmost priority."

The inaugural Abu Dhabi Showdown Week was staged in the build-up to UFC 242 in September 2019, which culminated in Khabib Nurmagomedov’s sold-out lightweight unification bout with Dustin Poirier. The weeklong events typically include athlete meet and greets and fitness tutorials.

Tuesday’s release encouraged fans to sign up at the Visit Abu Dhabi website to register their interest in UFC 267.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 3:44 PM