The Thunderbirds have Tracy Island. Wannabe reality stars: Love Island. And international athletes unable to travel to Australia due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions? They’ve got UFC Fight Island.
Devised by MMA boss Dana White as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, on Saturday 11th July 2020 the new location will host UFC 251. Although the event was originally slated to take place in Perth, Australia, White declared in early May the competition would be shifted to the private island, taking place without fans in the seats.
But where exactly is Fight Island? What coronavirus guidelines do competitors have to follow? And will top fighters Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman reveal themselves via a hidden swimming pool à la Thunderbird 1? Here’s everything we know so far.
Where is UFC Fight Island?
UFC Fight Island is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. A special arena has been built in order for fights to be held behind closed doors.
Welcome to #UFCFightIsland!
— UFC (@ufc) July 6, 2020
The island has hosted three previous UFC events, the most recent being UFC 242 in September 2019.
The 2,500-hectare landmass, one of Abu Dhabi’s top tourism sports, has been the setting of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. Attractions on the island include a Ferrari World theme park, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi.
What restrictions are there on fight island?
There is a 10-square mile “safety zone” on the island, with only competitors and essential personal – such as accommodation and media staff –permitted on site. Hotels, restaurants and a beach-side training cage can be found in the inclusion zone.
On arrival, all competitors have to take a coronavirus test before quarantining for 24 hours. Both Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman passed their COVID-19 tests.
Top fighter Gilbert Burns – who was set to challenge Usman for the welterweight title – was forced to pull out of the event after testing positive.
Where was UFC 251 originally supposed to be held?
UFC 251 was originally set to take place on 6th June 2020 at Perth Arena in Australia. However, as coronavirus-related travel restrictions prevented athletes from entering the country, the event was postponed.
“Due to current state and national restrictions on public gatherings and travel, UFC 251, originally scheduled for Perth, Western Australia on Sunday, June 7 has been officially postponed,” a statement in early May read.
The announcement followed news that UFC 250, originally to take place in Brazil, was postponed after the scheduled arena was transformed into a COVID-19 field hospital. The contest eventually took place in Las Vegas’ APEX facility behind closed doors.
TV coverage of the UFC 251 main card will start at 3am (UK time) in the early hours of Sunday 12th July 2020. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.