The countdown is on. Abu Dhabi Showdown Week is here and ready to take over the capital…

One of the most exciting UFC fights in history is about to take place in the capital on Saturday September 7 when current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier face off for UFC 242 in the brand-new purpose-built arena on Yas Island. To get visitors and residents pumped for the headline fixture, Abu Dhabi Showdown Week is hosting a series of events, mega concerts and parties leading up to the big fight.

Here’s your guide to what’s happening around town…

The Parties

Week-long Cabana brunch

The Abu Dhabi EDITION is hosting a poolside brunch every afternoon from Sunday September 1 to Saturday September 7, with Mediterranean light bites including freshly baked pizza and mini sliders served up tableside. Brunch packages cost Dhs200 and are valid for a total of 3 hours between noon and 6pm.

Abu Dhabi EDITION, noon to 6pm on Sunday Sept 1 to Saturday Sept 7, Dhs200,

Ladies’ days at Saadiyat Beach Club

For Dhs150, ladies receive free flowing drinks from 11am to 3pm on Monday September 2 and Tuesday September 3 at this swanky beach club. Expect chic pool party vibes, live entertainment and DJs. Entry for gents is Dhs200.

Saadiyat Beach Club, 11am to 3pm on Monday September 2 and Tuesday September 3, Tel: (02) 6563500,

Concert after-parties at MAD nightclub

Yas Island’s super club MAD hosts the official after-parties for both concerts, with BIZAAR by MAD running the Chili Peppers after-party shindig on Wednesday September 4 with a special performance from Jess Glynne, and Drai’s taking over the club the following night on Thursday September 5. Then on Friday September 6, Disturbing takes over MAD with Tinie Tempah & DJ Charlsey performing. And finally, on Saturday September 7 The White Experience@MAD features rapper 2 Chainz.

MAD on Yas Island, Wednesday September 4 to Saturday September 7,

Rain party at ALOFT

Head for the capital’s biggest pool party on Thursday September 5 with top UAE DJs spinning the decks and several food and drinks deals on offer. It’s free entry for ladies and airline crew with valid ID, and Dhs100 for gents.

Aloft Abu Dhabi, ADNEC, 8pm onwards on Thursday September 5,

Beach party at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

On Thursday September 5, Drai’s Dubai takes over the gorgeous shoreline of Fairmont Bab Al Bahr to host special guests Rudimental and Sigala for a live DJ set.

Drai’s Beach Club, Fairmont Abu Dhabi, Thursday September 5,

Showdown party at ANNEX

On Friday September 6, Annex pays homage to UFC with its very own ‘Showdown’, where anyone willing to dress up as a ring girl receives free-flow bubbles until 1am.

The Abu Dhabi EDITION, 10pm on Friday September 6, free,

Beach party at Yas Beach

Meanwhile, IRIS Beach Club will takeover Yas Beach where Erick Morillo and Sigma will hit the decks on Friday September 6.

IRIS Beach Club, Yas Island, Friday September 6, @irisbeachclub

Fight night viewing party at Saadiyat Beach Club

Catch the fights on an enormous outdoor screen while cooling off in the pool on Saturday September 7. There’s free-flowing drinks from 5pm to 8pm for Dhs250 (gents) and Dhs200 (ladies).

Saadiyat Beach Club, 5pm to 8pm on Saturday September 7

Knockout meal deals

Elsewhere, From September 1 until September 7 hotels and dining destinations across town will be preparing their own culinary offerings as part of a value-add culinary promotion exclusively for Abu Dhabi Showdown Week.

The Knockout Meal Deals are running across some of the city’s top restaurants, venues and hotels, from Saadiyat and Yas Island to Downtown Abu Dhabi and feature special Showdown Week menus, offers and combos across a wide range of cuisines. Participating venues include Stills, Blue Grill at Yas Island Rotana, and Amici.

The Concerts

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The legendary four-piece rock band is set to perform on Wednesday September 4 at The Arena. The guys were last in the Middle East in March, when they performed an iconic gig in front of Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza. The band is expected to play a set comprising a selection of tracks such as Dark Necessities lifted from their current and eleventh studio album, The Getaway, plus greatest hits and classic album tracks such as, By the Way, Otherside, Californication, Under The Bridge and Give It Away.

The Arena, Yas Island,Wednesday September 4, Dhs250 to Dhs995,

J Balvin

Colombian Reggaeton singer J Balvin will perform at The Arena on Yas Island on Thursday September 5, a day after the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Credited as one of a number of stars propelling Latin music to the forefront of the worldwide music scene, J Balvin has collaborated with stars including Cardi B, Pharell Williams and Sean Paul. To date, he’s amassed more than 20 billion views on YouTube. His performance in Abu Dhabi will mark this UAE debut.

The Arena, Yas Island, Thursday September 5, Dhs190 to Dhs440,

The Fitness Events  

Abu Dhabi Sports & Fitness Expo

Discover the latest trends in fitness technology and performance-boosting products as the world’s biggest names in sports and well-being descend on the capital for the Abu Dhabi Sports & Fitness Expo 2019. Rock up in your active wear to take part in Zumba, group fitness and yoga masterclasses, or watch the pros in action, including fitness celebrities such as four times Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler and Mr. Universe Mike O’Hearn in live fitness shows.

Du Forum, Abu Dhabi, Thursday September 5 from 3pm, Friday September 6 and Saturday September 7, from 10am. Tickets start at Dhs50,

Other UFC events

Open workouts (September 4)

Watch UFC 242 athletes go through one of their final sessions at Yas Mall before Saturday as they place their belts on the line for ultimate glory. This event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

Fan experience (September 6 and 7)

UFC Fan Experience unites the world’s greatest fans with their favourite UFC athletes, legends and talent. Get up close and personal to UFC’s best athletes and sports professionals at The Arena. There will be a variety of events including meet and greets, autograph signings, podcasts and more. Available for ticket holders only.

Weigh-in (September 6)

All fighters will step onto the scale just one day before UFC 242 takes place at The Arena. Be part of all the action and relish the excitement in the build up to the ultimate Showdown by watching your favourite athletes come face to face before battling it out in the octagon.

The Big Fight

Of course, the big week-long celebration culminates in the big fight at The Arena on September 7. 

There’s huge excitement about the return of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the reigning lightweight champion nicknamed The Eagle. The Russian 30-year-old is a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion and the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion, whose 27-win run remains the longest undefeated streak in MMA history. The first Russian to win a UFC title, he’s returning to the octagon following a nine-month suspension from the sport amid a controversial out-of-contest disturbance with Conor McGregor following the pair’s bout in 2018. Controversy aside, UFC 229 drew 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the most ever for an MMA event, and Khabib’s return is nothing short of a mammoth draw for fans eager to see his return to action. Indeed, as MMA commentator Joe Rogan, a black belt in both 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, said of Nurmagomedov, “He’s the most terrifying lightweight contender in the world. He’s just on such another level [of grappling] that the odds of beating him drop significantly after the first minute-and-a-half.”

He’ll take to the octagon against American Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier, who brings 24 wins and five losses under his interim champion UFC belt. A former world Extreme cagefighting pro, he’s seen action more recently than Khabib, emerging victorious from his Interim UFC Lightweight Championship bout with Max Holloway in April at UFC 236 and earning himself a Fight of the Night title in the process.

Nonetheless, it’s Khabib who goes into the fight as undisputed favourite – so much so, that he’s been speaking out against the idea that the bout will be a walk in the park for him following his volatile rivalry with McGregor.

“It’s not really necessary to have a verbal conflict to be motivated,” he told Russian television network RT Today. “Motivation can be sporting, and I have that, why not? When you go there and compete with [another] man – it doesn’t matter if it’s a fight, a sports competition or in a gym. Motivation is always there, and I still have it.

“Whether I have it or not – you’ll see on September 7. As an opponent I don’t underestimate him, he’s a good opponent, a very good fighter. He has the interim title, so I don’t have any problems with motivation.

“The main thing for me is to be in good physical shape so I can fight for 25 minutes, or even all night long if necessary. That’s the main thing.”

— For the best of Dubai straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

Images: Getty