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HomeSportMMA is Among the Fastest Growing Combat Sports in MENA

MMA is Among the Fastest Growing Combat Sports in MENA

His Excellency Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani says Abu Dhabi will continue to Host UFC Championship Events with additional Fight Night Events within the Emirate till 2028.

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His Excellency Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani says Abu Dhabi will continue to Host the MMA UFC Championship Events with additional Fight Night Events within the Emirate till 2028.

UFC and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) confirms that they will continue their existing partnership and host championship bouts within the Emirates every year until 2028. The extension will also include additional Fight Night events, which will take place across the MENA region.

Historically, UFC has held 18 events in the region since 2010.  It first entered a formal partnership in 2019, where UFC was allegedly paid USD 25 million per event. Since then, some of the biggest names in combat sports have competed in the UAE capital, including former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who defended his title multiple times in Abu Dhabi, along with former two-weight world champion Conor McGregor, former middleweight champion and No. 1 contender Israel Adesanya, and many others.

Over the terms of the original deal, nine title fights have taken place showcasing top-tier global talent, which suggests that MMA is growing in popularity in the Arabian Peninsula. UAE’s investment into a purpose-built arena on Yas Island during the pandemic enabled MMA to continue broadcasting, when most other contact sports had been postponed. The creation of Fight Island, which hosted three separate events during this period allegedly delivered the UFC its most successful financial year since its inception.

According to Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi His Excellency Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, bringing UFC to Abu Dhabi each year has proved hugely popular. Since 2010, UFC events claim it brought thousands of fight fans to Abu Dhabi and showcased UFC and the emirate to a global TV audience within UFC’s broadcast footprint of more than 900 million homes across more than 170 countries.

“MMA fans come to the emirate from all over the world to watch the biggest and best fights in the sport.  Over a 15-year period, UFC has extended its global reach and Abu Dhabi has established itself as a world capital for combat sports. Renewing our partnership with UFC allows us to continue to stage major events that thrill visitors and residents. We are excited to extend the relationship and innovate together to grow this sport in the UAE and wider region,” says HE Al Hosani.

A vocal, and enthusiastic fan of the UAE, UFC CEO Dana White says that Abu Dhabi is one of his favourite places in the world.

“The people, the restaurants, the hotels, it’s incredible. I have been so excited to be able to put on some of the biggest fights in the history of UFC in Abu Dhabi and it’s only going to get even bigger from here with additional Fight Nights coming to the region next year. I love it here,” says White.

Qatari-owned Media City has also joined hands with Singapore-based series ONE Championship, which is pegged to launch expansion into Qatar in March 2024.

Saudi Arabia is also looking to take a slice of the MMA pie, after investing USD100 million from its sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund in its first MMA venture, the US-based Professional Fighters League.  

The UFC has scheduled Fight Night 246 on June 2024, at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

Notes from the Editor: For more information on the UFC 2024 calendar, click here.

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