UFC COO: Abu Dhabi covered Fight Island costs, paid site fee


It appears the UFC did not have to break the bank for "Fight Island."

UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein told SportBusiness' Callum McCarthy that Abu Dhabi's government is paying the promotion a hosting fee and for the logistics of the four July events, including transport, COVID-19 testing, hotel accommodation, training facilities, and food.

"The value in kind they've provided to put these events on is incredible, something nobody else in the world could have done," Epstein said. "We're going to deliver them four events in U.S. primetime, generating a significant amount of exposure for Yas Island and Abu Dhabi."

The UFC's two-week stretch of "Fight Island" events kicks off Saturday with UFC 251. The pay-per-view card will feature three title fights, including welterweight champion Kamaru Usman versus Jorge Masvidal in the main event.

UFC president Dana White first revealed he'd be renting an island to hold events in April. White shed light on the costs of "Fight Island" two months later, saying it would be "f------ expensive" but ultimately worth it.

Six square miles of Yas Island has been sectioned off into a "safe zone," which is housing all personnel involved with the events, including fighters, UFC staff, and Abu Dhabi workers. No one is allowed to enter or exit the area, which consists of the Flash Forum arena (where the events will take place), seven hotels, and restaurants, among other establishments.

Everyone involved with the events will be tested for the coronavirus at least five times, according to the UFC.

"The primary goal of the Abu Dhabi tourism authority was to let the world know about the all the great stuff going on in Abu Dhabi and Yas Island, and the idea is that when the world goes back to normal, people can come and check out what they've seen," Epstein said.

The UFC signed a five-year deal with Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism in 2019 to bring at least one pay-per-view event to the city each year. "Fight Island" is a separate deal.

The promotion is scheduled to hold events in Abu Dhabi on July 11, 15, 18, and 25 before returning to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas in August.

UFC COO: Abu Dhabi covered Fight Island costs, paid site fee
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