The Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first event in the Middle East in 2010. Four years later, the promotion will return, said UFC president Dana White on Monday in Los Angeles.
“We’re going back to Abu Dhabi this year,” said White during a media luncheon with MMAWeekly.com. However, the UFC president didn’t provide a date or venue for the planned event.
UFC 112: Invincible took place in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates on April 10, 2010, in an open-air arena constructed specifically to hold the event. It was the first event in the country that purchased a 10-percent stake in the promotion earlier that same year through United Arab Emirates government-owned Flash Entertainment. The arena was dismantled the following week.
The return to the Middle East is part of the organization’s global expansion plans. The company recently inked television deals in multiple countries throughout the world, including nations in the Middle East.
“We’re moving into other markets. We just expanded into China. We’re on TV in China now. We just cut new deals in Europe. We just cut a new deal in the Middle East on television,” said White.
The Las Vegas-based fighting promotions plans upwards of 50 events this year with aggressive expansion into certain regions. They plan to hold possibly seven events in the Asian market, and to bring live events to Mexico, Turkey and Poland, as well as returning to England, Ireland, Sweden and Germany.
During the unveiling of the EA Sports UFC game in August 2013, UFC Managing Director of Europe, Middle East and Africa Garry Cook stated, “We have athletes representing 37 countries. We broadcast our events in 28 languages. And we’ve established major broadcasting partnerships in 145 countries around the world.
“And in 2014, you’ll see more live events. England, Sweden, Poland, Ireland, Turkey, and most importantly, we will be back in Germany in 2014.”