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UAE set for next level, new era of UFC: Dana

UAE set for next level, new era of UFC: Dana
Abu Dhabi will soon become the home of UFC and MMA.

Abu Dhabi - Dana has held closed-door parleys with top authorities

By Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 7 Sep 2019, 10:48 PM

Last updated: Sun 8 Sep 2019, 12:51 AM

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White predicts the combat sport revolution to shake-up the UAE and the Middle East region in the next five years.
The UFC's five-year deal with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi will result in a 19,000-seat new venue for the sport in the Capital, confirmed annual big-ticket mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, massive developments to win over new fans and more, Dana promised on the sidelines of the UFC 242 at the Arena in Yas Island.
Dana has held closed-door parleys with top authorities and confirmed a 'mind-boggling next level' of developments for the sport in Abu Dhabi. "We kick-started this market 10 years back. Wait till you see where we are in this country five years from now. It's going to be massive."
Dana told Khaleej Times that soon the UFC and MMA will have a new home in Abu Dhabi.
"They are going to build a new arena. There's going to be a 19,000-seat arena that will be our home and that's where we will be doing it," he said.
Elaborating on the future action plans in Abu Dhabi, Dana drew near parallels with UFC headquarters of Las Vegas. "We will be doing cool stuff here. Abu Dhabi is such a destination. We will make this a big event with people flying here from all over the world," he said. "Middle East as a whole has the power to do whatever they want to. UFC and MMA will be massive in this country in next five years."
He underlined the UFC and MMA will eventually be the biggest sport in the world with Abu Dhabi playing a key role in it. "As world continues to get smaller, technology continues to get better, there will be a day when the world is watching a fight at the same time on the same channel. It's coming. Abu Dhabi plays a huge role in it."
Dana clarified the UFC 242 hosted in Abu Dhabi has no connection to Khabib Nurmagomedov being UFC's first Muslim champion but the bout is part of the five-year deal with the DCT - Abu Dhabi.
"Everybody keeps thinking this whole thing is based on Khabib, which isn't true. We have a five-year deal to bring five big fights over here. If I couldn't get Khabib fight, I was going to bring (middleweight champ Robert) Whittaker and (interim belt-holder) Israel Adesanya here. That fight sold over 40,000 tickets in Australia. We are bringing big fights here whether it's Arab guys or Muslims. We are bringing the best fights here."
Even as temperature stayed north of 40 degrees all this fight week, Dana affirmed the annual event will continue to be held in September next year too.
"This is it. Just like we do it in Las Vegas, international fight you got to have it same time every year."
Dana noted the UFC has reached new places with Zhang Weili named China's first UFC champion last week and next up India was on the radar to find new talents.
"Zhang Weili fight was massive for us. Her growth as a star last week is phenomenal. Now this (UFC 242) is trending and breaking all kinds of records. This is first fight, which is trending in India. We are focused on India and finding and cultivating some talent there," he said as the UFC blueprint to popularise the sport in the UAE and the world.

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