'Khabib-Dustin clash first of many big fights coming to Abu Dhabi'
UFC president Dana White (right), who is seen speaking to Khabib, said he is heavily focused on the entire package of the MMA as the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi. - Supplied photo
Abu Dhabi - White said soon there will be fighters from the UAE and region on the UFC fight cards and vying for belts.
The UAE Capital is set to witness the very best fighters in action this weekend and the 'close connection' between the Mixed Martial Arts franchise and the emirate will see more such big bouts being held here, UFC president Dana White said.
Come Saturday, undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will take on challenger Dustin Poirier in the main card event at The Arena. And the built-up to this encounter has been breathtaking with the Abu Dhabi Showdown Week setting the tone and tenor.
White said he is heavily focused on the entire package of the MMA as the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi.
"I always stay focused on finding new talent, production and putting on the right fights - the best against the best. In building a card like this, I am involved from the very beginning - making the decision to go there, who is going to fight on the card, all the promotion that leads up to it," White told Khaleej Times.
"It is what I have been doing since day one. It's one of the things that I never lose sight of. I always make sure that the most important thing about this business is the fights and the fighters, and it is what I am always focused on."
UFC 242, White said, is start of big-ticket events coming to the Capital as part of the organisation's five-year partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.
"We have a really close connection with Abu Dhabi because we've already been there a few times, and the fights we've done there before. The people of the UAE have been so good to the UFC. We are going to continue to come back and bring big fights to the Middle East," he said.
White said soon there will be fighters from the UAE and region on the UFC fight cards and vying for belts.
"Since we have done events in Abu Dhabi, and it happens everywhere we go, it kick-starts the market, gyms pop up and people are training. Talent is coming out of the area. I won't be surprised - I said this about England, I said this about Australia, Canada and every country we have gone to - there will be a champion from the Middle East probably within the next six to seven years."
In the run-up to the main card, the UFC fighters are giving the people in Abu Dhabi a taste of what to expect. As many as eight UFC guest fighters will conduct activities for fans at 10 malls spread across the Capital.