By Callum Brady
With the current situation the world is dealing with right now sports are trying to find the best possible and safest possible way to return and some sports have started to announce their returns like the NBA and some sports like Football (Soccer) has already started in certain leagues but the first sport back was MMA. Dana White and the UFC have already put on a couple of fight cards but there were rumours and suggestions of a 'fight island' where the UFC can hold their future cards during this pandemic and make it as safe as possible but there where very little detail on the whole situation.
This was true until an interview on ESPN's First Take that took place on June 9th in which he revealed that Fight Island is located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He also continued on to say the UFC will be hosting four events during next month and it will all be kicked off with the UFC 251 pay-per-view on July 11.
In regards to UFC 251, White later in the interview announced the different bouts that will make up the card and at the top of the billing, there are three championship fights. The main event is a welterweight title bout between current champion Kamaru Usman coming off his big KO win over Coby Covington to defend his belt and Gilbert Burns who is coming off his career's signature win over former champ Tyron Woodley. The co-main event will display a featherweight title rematch between Australian Alex Volkanovski looking to defend his title for the first time and Max Holloway who was tipped as the greatest of all time at featherweight before his slip up in the last fight, and Petr Yan will take on Brazilian legend and MMA legend Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight championship.
In terms of safety, that is part of the reason why these events are being held on fight island, just like the NBA in the Disney campus near Orlando the UFC is aiming to create a bubble in which only essential people to the event can be, where regular testing can take place and no one is going in or out to spread the disease. White also states in the ESPN interview that Fight Island includes a "safety zone" of 10 square miles in which the only people permitted will be athletes, coaches, UFC staff, and limited personnel, as well as private training facilities for the fighters.
My initial view of the whole situation is first, you have to say well done to dana white and the UFC for grabbing the situation we are in by the neck and bringing the UFC back so early and in regards to Fight Island I think it is another great marketing move by the UFC, just like with the BMF belt the UFC has created a backstory for an event which would have just been an ordinary event but now it is the never seen before, 'Fight Island'. In terms of the fights on the card, I was admittedly disappointed and that is not saying the fights on the card are bad but for this big event I was expecting some sort of super-fight to be announced along the lines of McGregor vs Masvidal or Jones vs Ngannou as the headliner but these fights seem to have broken down through retirement and contract issues. Nevertheless, the card looks like a lot of fun and you can't complain about three title fights on one card an including one of my personal favourite fighters in Max Holloway. One last thing, if anyone is on the fence about the card, don't worry because the Octagon is going to be on a beach.