The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT-Abu Dhabi) and UFC has extended its partnership until 2028. The extension will result in the continuation of their existing partnership which sees the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation bring its events, featuring a championship bout, to the Emirate every year. The new partnership will also expand to include a Fight Night event to take place every year within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
UFC has a longstanding relationship with Abu Dhabi, with 18 events held in the region since 2010. The collaboration was formalised in 2019 and has seen some of the biggest names in combat sports compete in the UAE capital including former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who defended his title multiple times in Abu Dhabi, along with former two weight world champion Conor McGregor, former middleweight champion and number one contender Israel Adesanya and many others. Over the term of the original deal, nine title fights have taken place showcasing top-tier global talent, entertaining viewers all over the world and growing the sport of MMA across the MENA region.
His Excellency Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Undersecretary of DCT-Abu Dhabi, said: “Bringing the UFC to Abu Dhabi each year has proved hugely popular, with MMA fans coming to the emirate from all over the world to watch the biggest and best fights in the sport. Over a 15 years of relationship, UFC has extended its global reach and Abu Dhabi has established itself as a world capital for combat sports. Renewing our partnership with UFC allows us to continue stage major events that thrill visitors and residents. We are excited to extend relationship and innovate together to grow this sport in the UAE and wider region.”
Dana White, CEO of UFC, said: “Abu Dhabi is one of my favourite places in the world; the people, the restaurants and the hotels - it’s incredible. I have been so pumped to be able to put on some of the biggest fights in the history of UFC in Abu Dhabi and it’s only going to get even bigger from here with an additional Fight Night coming to the MENA region next year. I cannot wait.”
Since 2010, events have brought thousands of fight fans to Abu Dhabi and showcased the UFC and the emirate itself to a global TV audience within UFC’s broadcast footprint of more than 900 million homes across more than 170 countries.
The partnership was deepened further as Abu Dhabi hosted three separate series of Fight Island events during the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time when sport around the world was shutting down, Yas Island was transformed to create a safe and secure location for international athletes to compete. The events became a global sporting phenomena and example to other sporting organisations and host cities around the world.
The announcement comes ahead of the sold-out UFC 294: Makhachev vs Volkanovski 2 set to take place on Saturday 21 October at the Etihad Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Last year, a sold-out crowd witnessed Islam Makhachev become the lightweight champion when he defeated Charles Oliveira via second round stoppage at UFC 280. In the co-main event, fan favourite and UAE resident Khamzat Chimaev will make his middleweight debut as he faces his toughest test to date in Kamaru Usman.
In addition to the championship event, fans have been enjoying a week-long celebration of MMA as Abu Dhabi Showdown Week returned bigger than ever this year to take over the city, including UFC Fan Experiences, concerts, comedy shows, and much more.
Abu Dhabi has a proven track record of hosting major global sports competitions and events. The destination provides seamless connectivity, world-leading infrastructure and a wide range of attractions and activities which cater to visitors of all tastes. The emirate’s transformation into a global centre for sport is fully supported by Abu Dhabi Government entities in cooperation with private sector partners.