President of UFC, Dana White, is ready to bring fighting back to our television screens. He’s been working with individuals in the industry, authority figures, and healthcare professionals from around the world to try and figure out the most realistic way to bring back UFC.
His plan is referred to as the “Fight Island Project,” as he went all the way to Abu Dhabi to learn how to properly bring UFC back in the safest way possible. Abu Dhabi is located on an island in the Persian Gulf. The Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) for Abu Dhabi has already been working with local athletes on fights on the island throughout the pandemic, hence White’s desire to go to the island and see it for himself.
To satisfy public health and safety guidelines, the DCT sealed off the entire island at the beginning of the pandemic. The island itself is about 10-square-miles, which includes a sports arena, hotel, training facilities, and multiple dining establishments for approximately 2,500 athletes, coaches, staff, and even personnel, according to White.
“It was a success in every way you can measure success. Zero positive cases on the island, 12,500 tests, 100 athletes, four title fights, they’re [Abu Dhabi] light years ahead of everybody else in what’s going on with Covid so it really was the perfect partnership.”
White has received a lot of criticism from the media for attempting to bring a contact sport back into fruition during a global health crisis, however, he claims that if Americans are able to bring back basketball and baseball in a new context, why can’t he if he’s doing the proper research and working with countries that have actually gotten the pandemic under control at this point?
Before the “Fight Island” plan, arenas in Jacksonville, Florida and Las Vegas were hosting UFC events before everything was shut down due to Covid-19. Now, White wants to implement everything he took from his collaboration with the DCT of Abu Dhabi and bring it back to America. Fight Night is already scheduled to take place at the Apex in Vegas this August, along with nine other fights.
While White is confident in his team’s ability to maintain a healthy and safe working environment for all, he also is aware of the seriousness of this pandemic.
“It’s something that I worry about every day. Everything that we’ve done has been successful; it’s been safe. I think that we’ve now proven ourselves that we can do this and we can pull this off, because I’m not afraid to spend the money. It’s expensive to do this thing right.”
MLS and the NBA are among the major sporting leagues in America to adopt the “bubble” procedure for bringing sports entertainment back. The NBA is set to make their return at the end of this week and the MLS has been playing the “MLS is Back Tournament” for the past few weeks, and baseball has also made its comeback.
White is adamant in his belief that bringing back UFC won’t actually work “outside of a bubble.” Having individuals in lockdown without the ability to go home or sneak out is the only way to guarantee that everyone is healthy and will remain as such. Time will tell in the coming month how successful White and the UFC team is at implementing these new strategies.