Third UFC Fight Island stint to allow fans

The UFC kicks off 2021 with a three-event, eight-day run on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The UFC Fight Island stint will also welcome fans into the arena for the first time since emerging from the pandemic induced lockdown in the spring of 2020.

The three events start with UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Kattar on Jan. 16, followed by UFC Fight Night: Magny vs. Chiesa on Jan. 20, and culminates on Jan. 23 with UFC 257, which features Conor McGregor’s return to rematch Dustin Poirier.

There had been discussions of allowing a limited number of fans to attend UFC events during the promotion’s second stint on Fight Island, which took place in September and October. That didn’t happen.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism were able to put procedures in place for January’s events, however, which will still allow a limited crowd, not the full rooms for which UFC president Dana White has been waiting.

“I’m pumped to start the year with a straight week of great fights — Saturday, Wednesday and Sunday — for fight fans all over the world with FIGHT ISLAND Triple Header,” UFC president Dana White said in a released statement, published on ESPN.

“Following two highly successful editions of UFC Fight Island and the recent Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to host major international events in a safe and secure environment this year.”

Unlike the UFC’s first two trips to Fight Island, this third iteration will take place not at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, but at Etihad Arena to accommodate for the limited allowance of fan attendance under physical distancing guidelines.

White has been adamant that he didn’t want to bring fans back to live events until he could hold them in venues without limitations on ticket sales. But he has also been extremely complimentary of the treatment that the UFC has received from Abu Dhabi in hosting its “international” events during the pandemic, which likely influenced the decision to hold events there with limited seating.

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Dana White admitted in December that fans might be allowed at UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2

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