UFC has confirmed it's returning to Abu Dhabi for the first time in five-years.
The mixed martial arts promotion is to stage UFC 242 in the United Arab Emirates on September 7th. UFC 242 will be the first event in a five-year partnership between UFC and Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT).
Organisers hope the card will mark the return of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to the octagon. The Dagestani fighter has been inactive since the controversial incidents that followed his win over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October of 2018. Nurmagomedov's likely opponent is interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.
UFC have staged two cards in Abu Dhabi, with the most recent being a Fight Night in April of 2014. Their first venture there saw Anderson Silva defeat Demian Maia in a middleweight contest. That April 2010 card was the first UFC event to be held in an open-air arena.
We have a groundbreaking new partnership with the UFC events the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization to bring them #InAbuDhabi for the next five years, beginning with UFC®️ 242 on Saturday, 7 September. pic.twitter.com/pgJqmcAuiP
— Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (@dctabudhabi) April 29, 2019
In a statement, DCT chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak claimed their UFC partnership, "will no doubt boost incoming tourist numbers as fight fans across the world gather in Abu Dhabi.”
While UFC President Dana White said they were looking to grow the sport in the region, "The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE".
The joint statement claims each visit to Abu Dhabi will be headlined by a championship bout.