‘Nothing short of extraordinary’ – How the UFC pulled off a festival of fighting this summer

By Joe Richardson
August 16 2020, 17.25

After another scintillating card at UFC 252 on Saturday night a festival for fight fans this summer was rounded off.

As the majority of sports came to a standstill, the dogged nature of the UFC and its president Dana White allowed its fighters, fans and staff the opportunity to continually enjoy the sport they love this summer. 

Over the last 14 weeks the UFC has showcased an impressive 15 cards, consisting of 94 undercard fights, 77 main card fights, equating to a mammoth 171 fights over this period.

These events have meant the UFC has raked in more than 2 million pay per view buys, excluding last night’s purchases, with the majority of these coming from UFC 251. 

The welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal attracted 1.3 million pay per views to the event shooting it to number six on the all time list, tied with Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez in 2016, bringing in an estimated £62.3 million.

Conor Davidson, 39, who trains people in mixed martial arts, said: “What the UFC have managed to pull off this summer is nothing short of extraordinary. The hours and the man power that went into showcasing live sport for fans this summer is a credit to the organisation.

“While most of the sporting world struggled to entertain its fans and allow athletes to compete the UFC set an example of how with hard work and creative thinking you can get it done. A true reflection of the tenacious nature of both the sport and the organisation.”

But without a doubt the most impressive aspect of the festival of fighting was UFC Fight Island, which was held on Yas Island located just off the Abu Dhabi coast. 

The UFC, Dana White and the Abu Dhabi Department for Culture and Tourism undertook the extensive logistical exercise of showcasing live sport whilst keeping safety as the paramount concern.

The 11 square km stretch of Yas Island was dubbed ‘the safest place in the world’.

View this post on Instagram

And that’s a wrap from Fight Island 🏝

A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on

A claim that is hard to argue with when more than 10,000 tests were conducted within the safe zone, with every individual having to take a test every 72 hours.

22 charter flights transported 630 people to the site which consisted of three medical facilities, and 17 medical personnel.

The 1,678 Abu Dhabi based staff went into a 14 day hotel room quarantine from June 19, having three tests in this period, to ensure everyone was cleared before the work could begin.

Another 740 people transformed the Flash Forum into a suitable fighting arena which consisted of building the Octagon and ‘mist tunnels’, 1.5 metre passageways that sanitise anyone going in and out of the venue.

The build took more than 400,000 man hours, 18km worth of cables fitted and 350 tonnes of metal were used on the facility. Once the venue was finished and the build team left Abu Dhabi police sealed the area creating the safe zone.

Those competing at UFC Fight Island were flown out from four anchor cities: Las Vegas, London, São Paulo, or Moscow. 

The fighters and their teams would have to conduct a test ahead of their flight, before take off, landing, 48 hours after their arrival, and a final pre-fight test to ensure maximum levels of coverage.

The huge undertaking was such a success that White has promised to take the sport back there by the end of the year. White told TMZ, “I’m telling you right now, Abu Dhabi is gonna become the fight capital of the world!”

White has set a precedent for sports organisations around the world to take inspiration from by showcasing live sport in a safe and spectacular fashion. Some have already learned from Whites lessons, with fixtures from the Indian Premier League scheduled there from September 19.

Related Articles