For its trio of events at “Fight Island” to open 2021, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will bring back
something not seen since last March, namely: spectators.
On Thursday, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and
Tourism announced that the three UFC cards scheduled for Jan.
16-24 on Yas Island—branded “Fight Island” by the promotion—will
feature “a limited number of spectators.” The press release did not
specify how many tickets would be sold for each show at Etihad
Arena, whose normal capacity is approximately 18,000, but by Friday
afternoon, individual seats for all three events were showing as
sold out, with tickets available only as packages.
The UFC temporarily suspended its event schedule after UFC Fight
Night 170 in Brasilia last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The
promotion returned from that hiatus on May 9 with a trio of shows
at VyStar Veterans Arena, followed by alternating runs in Abu Dhabi
and at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, a total of 33 events, all of
which took place in near-empty venues with no spectators.
The return of live crowds to UFC events comes just in time for the
return of the promotion’s biggest star. The three-event stand in
the UAE wraps up with the promotion’s first pay-per-view of the
year, UFC 257 (Jan. 24) which is
scheduled to be headlined by a rematch between Conor
McGregor and Dustin
Poirier. Before that, the UFC will launch its venture with new
broadcast partner ABC, with UFC on ABC 1 (Jan. 16) and a
featherweight main event featuring former champ Max
Holloway vs. Calvin
Kattar, and UFC on ESPN 20 (Jan. 20) with
welterweight contenders Michael
Chiesa and Neil Magny
set to headline.