Posted by: englishdubai | January 14, 2010

Here we Go

Over the last 15 years I have been an avid follower of the UFC. I clearly remember buying the first three UFC tournaments on VHS (!) back in 1995 while I was at University. Since then the UFC under the direction of Zuffa and Dana White (UFC President) has become a house hold name and I am still a huge fan. I even managed to attend UFC 38 – Brawl in Hall. I recall it being quite scary seeing lots of huge guys walking around in T-Shirts with logos like “I will make you Tap Out” – crikey I thought, don’t do that on me. Still it was amazing evening with the highlight being local British fighter Ian “The Machine” Freeman beating the upcoming Frank Mir by brutal ground and pound (who later went on to be the UFC Heavyweight Champion).

There had been some rumblings late last year that the UFC would hold an event in Abu Dhabi and with a couple of Dana White appearances in the UAE late last year there was definitely something afoot. This was confirmed when earlier this week it was announced that Flash Entertainment an Abu Dhabi based company had acquired 10% of the UFC which was quite a shock in itself.

Then last night I ended up getting very excited when it was announced that Vitor Belfort would challenge Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight title at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi on 10th April. For me these two guys are the best strikers in the UFC – it will be dynamite. It is also emerging that there could be a second title fight that night involving BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar. Two title fights in one night? I suppose a spend of (at a guess) $150m is going to get you something special. I imagine the whole card will be stacked and I personally hope there is at least one of the upcoming young British fighters on the card.

This double whammy is huge. It is clear that the UFC have their eyes on the Middle East, Indian and Chinese markets and ties with Abu Dhabi allow them unique leverage into them. Selling advertising rights and pay per view into a population of 2.5 billion is a lofty prize. Dana White gave his views on the deal below:

For Abu Dhabi this is another prestigious marque to be associated with that further heralds their international ambition and cements them as a stop on the global tour of sport. Aside from this Abu Dhabi has a huge tradition in submission combat and the National has a nice article around this here.

I was so impressed with the Abu Dhabi GP last year and I am sure there will be a spectacular show put on for UFC 112. There still appears to be some debate as to where the venue will be with the video revealing that a venue “will be built” – interesting to see if they use Yas Island or Emirates Palace.

Without question I will be there and I can hardly wait. It seems that for the big events in the UAE are now heading to Abu Dhabi (F1, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Beyonce, FIFA Club Championship, Red Bull Air Race) – adding the UFC to this list is simply brilliant.


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