Dubai: Twelve months after its spectacular return to the high-octane MMA Octagon, Abu Dhabi has been hailed because the undisputed worldwide combat capital of UFC, with its President, Dana White, pledging that “all the massive fights are going to be in Abu Dhabi”.
It was in September final 12 months, following the mega five-year contract that the Division of Tradition & Tourism, Abu Dhabi signed with UFC, that the UAE capital staged it first main MMA occasion since 2014. UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier headlined an enthralling inaugural Showdown Week at Yas Island.
On the primary anniversary of that ground-breaking occasion the place Khabib efficiently defended his title, UFC boss White has praised Abu Dhabi for its function in supporting the promotion and in addition internet hosting 4 occasions at ‘Struggle Island’ through the COVID-19 pandemic in July.
“UFC 242 put Abu Dhabi firmly on the map. Now, it’s the world combat capital of the world,” mentioned White.
“It was helped by Khabib’s victory, in fact. He has many, many followers within the area for apparent causes they usually simply went wild. But it surely was a lot greater than that. Abu Dhabi simply will get it.
“They know methods to placed on a present, methods to take care of you, methods to get issues completed. With will and dedication you get issues completed — that’s Abu Dhabi. The individuals at DCT — Abu Dhabi are unbelievable to work with. Why would I wish to go anyplace else?
“It was Las Vegas, now Abu Dhabi actually is the worldwide combat capital. We’ve world champions from all all over the world so, from that sense too, all the massive fights are going to be in Abu Dhabi.”
Abu Dhabi’s rise as a worldwide UFC powerhouse has coincided with a brand new wave of Arab fighters making their mark within the Octagon.
It was in Abu Dhabi throughout UFC 242 in September 2019 that White mentioned that it might not be too lengthy earlier than fighters from the UAE and the Center East began claiming UFC titles. Since then, 4 Arab fighters have featured in UFC occasions — Dubai-based Tunisian Mounir Lazzez, Iraqi’s Amir Albazi, Morocco’s Youssef Zalal and Jordan’s Ali Al Qaisi. Three of them — Albazi, Zalal and Lazzez — have recorded victories.
Lazzez, a UAE resident, admits the thrill of UFC 242, gave him further motivation to chase his dream. A dream that turned actuality with victory on his debut throughout Struggle Island in July.
“Ever since Khabib got here to combat throughout UFC 242, the entire area has grow to be obsessive about UFC and MMA,” mentioned Lazeez, who’s nicknamed ‘The Sniper’.
“With Khabib being Muslim, he has been capable of amass an enormous fan base within the area, nonetheless there’s nonetheless the necessity for a neighborhood celebrity as properly that folks can root for as properly.”
“Abu Dhabi has created plenty of waves by being the primary nation within the area to host the large-scale and world occasion this 12 months. This offers regionally based mostly fighters like me an ideal alternative, as we’re in such proximity to the capital of martial arts within the area, whereas giving Abu Dhabi and UAE a worldwide platform to showcase the nation,” he added.
“I’m actually blessed to have the ability to signify the Center East and North Africa on one of many greatest platforms. It’s a nice alternative to point out individuals how somebody who was born and raised on this area, could make it the massive leagues. Combating and claiming titles within the Center East, helped me catapult my profession to UFC on a world scale. “
UFC Arabia function
UFC Arabia, the primary Arabic-language UFC streaming platform, has additionally been instrumental in fuelling UFC’s recognition within the UAE and the Center East. Accessible throughout platforms in 21 international locations within the area, it’s a one-stop store for all issues UFC with followers capable of entry reside occasions in addition to the complete library of UFC content material. Followers can tune in to relive all of the motion from UFC 242 any time on demand on UFC Arabia.
To have a good time this distinctive anniversary milestone, UFC Arabia can be operating a contest with one fortunate winner getting his fingers on an unique UFC 242 prize bundle that features a pair of signed gloves from UFC 242 winner Paul Felder and a one-year subscription to UFC Arabia. The competition may be entered by logging on to www.ufc.com/giveaway.