by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship will hold UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi… done deal.
That’s the word from Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, who confirmed the event with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.
Despite confirming the sale of a 10-percent stake in the promotion to Flash Entertainment, a company wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi government, UFC officials weren’t quite sure if a venue could be put together fast enough for a proposed April 10 date in Abu Dhabi.
A new venue will be built for future UFC events, but UFC 112 will be held in the outdoor Concert Arena at Ferrari World on Yas Island.
“This is one of the biggest and most significant nights in the history of the UFC,” company president Dana White told Yahoo! Sports. “UFC 112 is our first ever outdoor event and it is taking place in the hometown of our brand new partners, Flash Entertainment.”
As expected, two title bouts will head the event. Anderson Silva will defend his middleweight strap against Vitor Belfort and UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn will fight Frankie Edgar.
The card will also feature Renzo Gracie making his UFC debut against former welterweight titleholder Matt Hughes.
Abu Dhabi has long been a strong supporter of mixed martial arts, and has a particular interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Members of the royal family have trained extensively with Renzo and other members of the Gracie family over the years.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has been a strong backer of the Art of War mixed martial arts promotion in China, a market the UFC has been working hard to crack. Sheikh Mohammed is believed to be one of the key players orchestrating the deal with the UFC, bringing the event to Abu Dhabi.