UFC Fight Island was a huge risk for the promotion. The project would have either been a huge success or failure that would put the UFC out of business.
It turns out that it was one of the most brilliant moves the company has done, which actually saved them. The project of making Fight Island took a lot of time and money, but the results were spectacular.
Here is the full story of how UFC Fight Island came to be and everything that went into it. Also giving a summary of the 13 events that have been held there so far.
- 1 Why was UFC Fight Island created?
- 2 UFC Fight Island Covid protocol
- 3 du Forum
- 4 Fight results at the du Forum
- 4.1 UFC 251: Masvidal vs Usman
- 4.2 UFC on ESPN Kattar vs Ige
- 4.3 UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2
- 4.4 UFC on ESPN: Whitaker vs Till
- 4.5 UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa
- 4.6 UFC on Espn: Holm vs Aldana
- 4.7 UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Moraes
- 4.8 UFC Fight Night: Brian Ortega vs The Korean Zombie
- 4.9 UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje
- 5 Etihad Arena
- 6 Fight results at the Etihad Arena
Why was UFC Fight Island created?
At the beginning of 2020, the world came to a screaming halt as it was plagued by Covid-19 or the Coronavirus. The world’s economy immediately stopped with most of the world’s countries going into complete lockdown.
People could not attend mass gatherings in public and this certainly meant no sporting events. Being unable to run shows, the UFC was losing money fast and had to come up with a plan.
They couldn’t run shows in the US or Europe due to Covid travel restrictions, so they needed another solution. A frantic search to find a location with laxed restrictions led them to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
This would lead to the creation of what would be called the UFC Fight Island.
UFC Fight Island Covid protocol
Many were very skeptical if the UFC could actually pull this move off. The sheer logistics of getting fighters from all over the world to one place without spreading Covid-19 seemed impossible.
But the UFC did create extensive plans to keep their fighters and crew safe during these events. Here are the protocols they created for Fight Island.
Due to extensive travel extensions, the UFC would pay for fighter’s travel to Abu Dhabi. Fighters and their crews would board flights from either Las Vegas, London, São Paulo, or Moscow.
Going directly to Abu Dhabi to avoid any extensive Covid protocols from other countries.
Fighters from Las Vegas had to arrive 36 hours prior to the event taking place. Other fighters coming from the other 3 locations had to arrive 48 hours in advance.
Pre-flight Covid tests
24-48 hours before their flights, the fighter had to undergo Covid tests before being allowed to board their planes. The UFC would schedule the Covid tests for the fighters ahead of their flights to Abu Dhabi.
Covid tests in Abu Dhabi
Immediately after arriving in Abu Dhabi, all of the fighters and their crews are taken to a safe zone within the airport. Once there, they would go through another round Covid tests
Once passing the first clearance, the fighters and crew would then be transported to their hotels. At the hotel, they are forced to quarantine for 12 hours as they wait for the results of their Covid tests.
After they clear the first test, fighters and staff must undergo a second test in their hotel rooms. Being forced to quarantine for another 12 hours to be cleared for their fight.
Then upon passing their 2nd test, the fighters and staff had to pass 2 more Covid tests. One 24 hours before the fight and after to be cleared to travel back to their countries.
From an interview with TSN back in 2020, Dana White revealed how much the UFC spent on these Covid tests. White confirmed that the UFC spent nearly 17 million dollars on over 26,300 tests with a positivity rate of nearly .8 percent
To help ensure that the event wouldn’t have an outbreak of Covid, a biosecure bubble was created. This bubble would consist of safe zones that would be between the hotels, training facilities, restaurants, beach, and arena.
The fighters and their crews have to be wearing their masks at all times to enter these areas. They along with their crews are then escorted by security through each area.
Prior to entering the training facilities, they had to schedule a time beforehand with the UFC staff.
For the first 9 events at Fight Island were closed to the public. Only fighters, their crew, and those working with the UFC were allowed at the events.
Fight results at the du Forum
Here are the fight results for the main cards of the 9 events that took place at the du Forum.
UFC 251: Masvidal vs Usman
- Main event:(Welterweight Title) Kamaru Usman(C) def Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision
- Co-Main:(Featherweight Title) Alex Volkanovski def Max Holloway by split decision
- Petr Yan def Jose Aldo by TKO(punches)
- Rose Namajunas def Jessica Andrade by split decision
- Amanda Ribas def Paige VanZant by armbar
UFC on ESPN Kattar vs Ige
- Main Event: Kalvin Kattar def Dan Ige by unanimous decision
- Tim Elliot def Ryan Benoit by unanimous decision
- Jimmy Rivera def Cody Stamman by unanimous decision
- Tailia Santos def Molly McCann by unanimous decision
- Mounir Lazzez def Abdul Razak Alhassan by unanimous decision
- Main event: (Flyweight title) Deiveson Figueiredo def Joe Benavidez by rear naked choke
- Jack Hermansson def Kelvin Gastelum by heel hook
- Rafael Fiziev def MArc Diakiese by unanimous decision
- Ariane Lipski def Luana Carolina by kneebar
- Askar Askarov def Alexandre Pantoja by unanimous decision
UFC on ESPN: Whitaker vs Till
- Main Event: Robert Whitaker def Darren Till by unanimous decision
- Mauricio Rua def Antônio Rogério Nogueira by split decision
- Fabricio Werdum def Alexander Gustafsson by armbar
- Carla Esparza def MArina Rodriguez by split decision
- Paul Craig def Gadzhimurad Antigulov by unanimous decision
- Khazmat Chimaev def Rhys McKee TKO(punches)
UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa
- Main event:(Middleweight title) Israel Adesanya(C) def Paulo Costa by TKO(punches)
- Co Main:(Light Heavyweight title) Jan Blachowicz def Dominique Reyes by TKO(punches)
- Brandon Royval def Kai Kara France by armbar
- Ketlen Vieira def Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision
- Hakeem Dawondu def Zubaira Tukhugov by split decision
UFC on Espn: Holm vs Aldana
- Main Event: Holly Holm def Irene Aldana by unanimous decision
- Carlos Felipe def Yorgan de Castro by unanimous decision
- Germaine de Randamie def Julianna Pena by guillotine choke
- Kyle Phillips def Cameron Else by TKO(punches/elbows)
- Dusko Todorovic def Dequan Townsend by TKO(punches)
UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Moraes
- Main Event: Corey Sandhagen def Marlon Moraes by TKO(spinning wheel kick and punches)
- Edson Barboza def Makwan AmirKhani by unanimous decision
- Marcin Tybura def Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision
- Dricus du Plessis def Markus Perez by KO(punches)
- Tom Aspinalli def Alan Baudot by TKO(elbows and punches)
- Illia Topuria def Yousseff Zalal by unanimous decision
UFC Fight Night: Brian Ortega vs The Korean Zombie
- Main Event: Brian Ortega def Korean Zombie by unanimous decision
- Jessica Andrade def Katlyn Chookagian by TKO(body shots)
- Jimmy Crute def Modestas Bukauskas by KO(punches)
- James Krause def Claudio Silva by unanimous decision
- Jonathan Martinex def Thomas Almeida by unanimous decision
UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje
- Main event:(Lightweight title) Khabib(C) def Justin Gaethje by triangle choke
- Robert Whittaker def Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision
- Alexander Volkov def Walt Harris by TKO(body kick and punches)
- Phil Hawes def Jacob Malkoun by KO(punches)
- Lauren Murphy def Lillya Shakirova by RNC
- Magomed Ankalev def Ion Cutejaba by KO(punches)
On January 16, 2021, the UFC would have its first live event opened to a small number of fans. For their first event back with fans, they moved from the du Forum to the Etihad Arena.
The new Etihad Arena was constructed during the pandemic with a 18,000 capacity. Although to prevent a Covid outbreak, the UFC limited the number of fans to only 2,000 spectators.
Since the Etihad arena opened all of the events scheduled within Abu Dhabi have taken place there. This includes the upcoming UFC 267 card in October.
Fight results at the Etihad Arena
Here are the results of the 4 events held at the Etihad Arena.(so far)
UFC on ABC: Holloway vs Kattar
- Main Event: Max Holloway def Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision
- Carlos Condit def Matt Brown by unanimous decision
- Li Jingliang def Santiago Ponzinibbio by KO(punches)
- Alessio Di Chirico def Joaquin Buckley by KO(head kick)
- Punahele Soriano def Dusko Todorovic by TKO(punches)
UFC on Espn: Chiesa vs Magny
- Main Event: Michael Chiesa def Neil Magny by unanimous decision
- Warlley Alves def Mounir Lazzez by TKO(body kicks and punches)
- Ike Villanueva def Vinicius Moreira by KO(punch)
- Viviane Arujo def Roxanne Modaffieri by unanimous decision
- Matt Schnell def Tyson Nam by split decision
- Lerone Murphy def Douglas Silva de Andrade by unanimous decision
- Omari Akhmedov def Tom Breese by arm triangle choke
UFC 257: McGregor vs Poirier 2
- Main event: Dustin Poirier def Conor McGregor by KO(punches)
- Michael Chandler def Dan Hooker by TKO(punches)
- Joanne Calderwood def Jessica Eye by unanimous decision
- Makhmud Muradov def Andrew Sanchez by TKO(flying knee and punches)
- Marina Rodriguez def Amanda Ribas by TKO(elbows and punches)