Going out with a bang: UFC Fight Island events set to end on a high
The headline fight between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till has the potential to be explosive…
Whichever way you look at it, UFC Fight Island has been a huge success, but it’s not done yet.
The final Fight Night of this UFC Fight Island series takes place in the early hours of this coming Sunday, July 26.
The headline fight sets up a ‘Hunger Games’ face-off between two fighters eagre to prove themselves, Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
Whitaker is the New Zealand-born, Australian former UFC Middleweight Champion. He’s returning to the octagon after a short break, and despite the fact he avoids the sort of trash talk that some fighters delight in, from interviews in the pre-fight lead-up, it’s clear he’s in excellent condition and hungry for the clash.
Brit fighter Till AKA ‘The Gorilla’ will be looking to double down on the sporting success of his native city Liverpool (the football team now officially crowned as EPL champions) this weekend. Currently ranked number five in the Middleweight division, Till used to compete as Welterweight fighter, but his frame certainly seems to suit the higher weight category.
There are more exciting fights on the card too, including an all-Brazillian Light Heavyweight clash between former champion Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Also on the night, we’ll see Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Gustafsson; Carla Esparza vs. Marina Rodriguez; Paul Craig vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov; Alex Oliveira vs. Peter Sobotta; and Khamzat Chimaev vs. Rhys McKee.
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When is it taking place?
The main card starts at around 4am UAE time on Sunday July 26 at Fight Island’s competition octagon in the Flash Arena, Yas Island.
Headline contest Whittaker vs Till is likely to start around 7am UAE time.
Local fans can watch the action through UFC Arabia’s streaming service.
Will there be more to come from UFC’s Fight Island?
UFC fight master in chief Dana White seems very happy with Abu Dhabi as the location for, and the execution of UFC Fight Island as an event.
“People thought this Fight Island thing was three or four fights and that’s a wrap,” said White. “That’s not true – we’re here to stay. As far as trying to find another venue outside of the United States, it isn’t happening. Why would I go anywhere other than Abu Dhabi? Abu Dhabi could end up becoming the fight capital of the world… it’s definitely not Las Vegas right now.”
“We are going to do a lot of fights over here. If you look at how many international fights we do, those are here in Abu Dhabi. DCT Abu Dhabi are incredible to work with; I literally could not say enough good things about this partnership.”
“Literally everything has been perfect. When you look at what we’re dealing with and the circumstances going on, there’s nowhere else… these guys are the best at what they do. Nobody does it like Abu Dhabi.”
يقول دانا وايت، رئيس مؤسسة الفنون القتالية المختلطة “يو إف سي” إن “أبوظبي تعتبر حرفياً المكان الأكثر أماناً بالعالم”، في وصفه لإجراءات الفحوصات المكثفة التي تجريها الإمارة. pic.twitter.com/yV3ex2h8Qd
— مكتب أبوظبي الإعلامي (@admediaoffice) July 23, 2020
In an exclusive video interview, White told The National that hugely popular undefeated fighter (and winner of Abu Dhabi’s UFC 242) reiging Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov could feature in the next round of Fight Island matches.
Although we should be clear, the beloved Russian is currently grieving the loss of his father, and has reportedly pulled out of an unconfirmed UFC 253 bout against Interim Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje.
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There was also a brief discussion on just how tightly the door is closed on Conor McGregor’s retirement.
If we’re to expect more huge fights in Abu Dhabi this year, on the short term radar we’ve got UFC 252 on August 15 – location, still officially TBD.
The event features a proposed Heavyweight battle between current champion Stipe Miocic and former champion Daniel Cormier.
UFC 253, set for September 19, is rumoured to feature UFC Middleweight Championship bout between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa.
Whether these events will happen in Abu Dhabi is yet to be confirmed, but the prospect is certainly very exciting.