What Is UFC Fight Island? Everything Explained


UFC’s Octagon on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi
Photo by UFC.com

Dana White, the owner of the UFC, has made waves by announcing that the UFC has acquired an island. This would be known as Fight Island and will go on to host some amazing events. But what is this venue and why did the UFC build it? 

Fight Island is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It was initially used as a way for the company to keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remote location allowed them to set up a secure bubble to keep their athletes safe. In the future, they intend to keep using this location to stage fights. 

The Fight Island is a highly ambitious project by the UFC, with the company expecting to incorporate the venue into events. Keep reading to take a closer look at this island and answer some of your burning questions. 

What Is UFC Fight Island?

The best place to start is by talking about what this island is. This is a location in Abu Dhabi. This is a manmade island, which the UFC was able to use to host their events. There are a few reasons why Dana White, the owner of the UFC, chose to use this location. 

One of the biggest initial considerations was the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus spread around the world in 2020, it forced businesses to change their practices. The UFC was no exception. They needed to find a way of keeping the close-contact sport going while complying with new regulations. 

Fight Island turned out to be the ideal solution. It allowed the fighters and their teams to fly in. There, they would be able to quarantine and form a bubble. This was also a good way to allow international fighters to compete together. 

While the restrictions might have eased, the UFC intends to continue to keep using the venue. The company hopes that this will become an attraction, signaling to the audience that a major fight is about to occur. And in an interview with Bro Bible, Dana White said “Fight Island is going to be so badass that it’s about to be this destination in Abu Dhabi for fight fans.”

Why Is UFC On Fight Island?

The UFC originally moved to Fight Island because of the global pandemic. They needed a place where they could comply with the regulations while still putting on an entertaining show. An island provided the ideal location. They could get all the fighters to quarantine safely in a bubble. 

When the pandemic originally struck, Dana White started searching for an international island to host the fights. Eventually, he settled on Fight Island. There were a few things that attracted Dana White to the island. These elements included: 

  • Control over who comes into and out of the area
  • Easily accessible for all international fighters
  • Well-established infrastructure
  • Located close to hotels
  • Enough space to build a stadium. 
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Where Is The Fight Island Located?

What UFC fans refer to as Fight Island is a manmade island known as Yas Island. It’s off the coast of Abu Dhabi. The island is owned by Abu Dhabi developer Aldar Properties. They intend to keep expanding the island, adding more attractions. 

Aerial view of Yas Island
Photo by Dapaan

How Does Fight Island Keep Fighters Safe?

There are a few ways that fight island was able to keep fighters safe and allow the UFC to keep operating during the pandemic. This is because it allowed them to build a bubble. There are multiple steps that an athlete and their team need to go through before they can enter the bubble. These include: 

  1. Fly to a hub city. 
  2. Take a COVID test before flying to Fight Island
  3. Take another test once they arrive. They need to isolate until the results of this test are revealed
  4. A third test is taken, used to confirm the results of the second test. 
  5. Before they fly home, they will need to complete another test. 

By the end of this process, the UFC can be fairly confident about the health of their fighters. If there are any positive tests, they will be able to pull or reschedule these fights. The ability to keep fighters in isolation until the results are confirmed ensures that a positive case won’t disrupt the whole event.

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Are Fans Allowed At UFC Fight Island?

When the UFC first came to Fight Island, they didn’t have any fans. This was the same as most of the events that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the world has started to open up again, the potential for fans to come and watch the fight has expanded. The company will start by having 2,000 spectators at the event. 

However, the number of hotels already present on the island might allow the company to increase the capacity in the future as restrictions begin to ease. It’s estimated that the Etihad Arena can house up to 18,000 fans

Is UFC Fight Island Permanent or Temporary Place For UFC Events?

UFC has always traveled around the world, performing shows in a range of destinations. Because of this, it’s unlikely that they would settle down in one area as a permanent home.  However, they have shown a willingness to use Fight Island for larger events. This has included longer events, like a month-long residency. 

This kind of strategy will likely continue moving forward. The UFC has previously expressed interest in making Fight Island the home for larger events. This is similar to the “Rumble in the Jungle” concept that has worked successfully for boxing. At the very least, the Abu Dhabi government remains open to the possibility of having more events. Plus, they have the infrastructure available to make this a possibility. 

How Much Did Fight Island Cost to Build?

The UFC takes up a relatively small part of Yas Island. This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi, attracting thousands of tourists each year. Some of the other locations on the island include: 

  • Ferrari World
  • Yas Water World
  • Yas Marina Circuit, which is commonly used by F1
  • Hotels and a golf course

It should be noted that Yas Island is expanding.  It’s believed that they could be considering adding a SeaWorld and a Warners Bros Movie World. At present, the island is only 55 percent complete. 

Because of these additions, Yas Island is worth a sizable investment by the Abu Dhabi government. For example, the track alone cost $1.3 billion. The exact financial details of Fight Island remain closely guarded. Though, it’s believed that it was a sizable investment made by the Abu Dhabi government. 

Some of the locations were slightly modified to suit the needs of the UFC. For example, a gym was built in the ballroom of the hotel, where the fighters and their teams can train. There was also a practice octagon constructed on the beach. The bill for this was paid by the Abu Dhabi government, as a way of promoting the country.

Does the UFC Own Fight Island?

While the UFC might be able to use the island, they won’t own it. Yas Island is owned by the Abu Dhabi government. While this might seem like an inconvenience, the company has been using this partnership to its advantage. It’s believed that Abu Dhabi helped them develop some of the infrastructure needed for Fight Island. 

In exchange, the government gets an attraction to bring tourists to the country. It also gives them a way of promoting their country to a global audience. 

Final Thoughts

Fight Island is set to become a fixture for the UFC, using it to host their biggest fights. This is a win for both the company and the Abu Dhabi government, who are using these events as a way of promoting their country as a tourist destination. 

Jeff J.

Jeff J is a retired Gunnery Sgt. with the United States Marine Corps and a former Federal Police officer. He was involved with extensive training with weapons systems, and hand to hand combat, mentored and trained hundreds of Marines in high-level fitness programs.

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