Fight Island may have been left intentionally vague by UFC president Dana White, but the promotion sure is delivering on its promise of fights. When first announced by White, many thought we would be getting a remote location with the possibility of fights taking place right on the beach with palm trees surrounding the Octagon. Instead, fights will take place inside an arena and controlled environment with arguably one of the best fight cards of the year in UFC 251.
The first of four cards from the United Arab Emirates, UFC 251 boasts three title fights, including the welterweight main event between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. Plus, a featherweight rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway as well as a bantamweight showdown between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.
Here's a look at what we know about Fight Island.
Can't get enough UFC? Subscribe to our podcast State of Combat with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon, including predictions and picks for UFC 251 with Brandon Wise.
Where is Fight Island?
The UFC announced Fight Island is actually Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, a manmade island on which the UFC has previously held events. While the initial idea of fights on an island brought to mind "Enter The Dragon" and a sort of lawless atmosphere on a remote island, the reality is far different. Yas Island features three fully-functional theme parks and a fourth currently under construction, as well as an airport, seven hotels, a golf course and an arena.
When do Fight Island fights start?
The first event on Yas Island will be UFC 251 on July 11. The promotion will then hold events on July 15, 18 and 25. The July 15 card is a rare Wednesday UFC event as they hold four events over three weeks on the island. Following those four dates, the UFC returns to the United States for a pair of announced cards, including UFC 252, which will be headlined by a heavyweight championship fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.
The fights are tentatively slated to begin the standard UFC start time, meaning a main card start time of 10 p.m. ET, which is 6 a.m. local time. Early prelims would go on as early (or late) as 2 a.m. local. The UFC's previous events on Yas Island started at 10 p.m. local time. But the current environment surrounding the pandemic and lack of fans in attendance seemingly led to standard event start times to accommodate the larger television audience.
How will Fight Island operate?
While there had been talk by White in the past that Fight Island would feature "an Octagon on the beach," the fights will take place in an arena and the beach Octagon will be used for training and promotional purposes. This is likely due to temperatures in the 90s to 100s in the morning and early afternoon in summer months in Abu Dhabi. The exact venue has not been revealed, but it will not be held in "The Arena," the venue where UFC 242 was held in 2019.
Fighters will stay in a hotel which will feature a ballroom converted to a gym -- with a 21-person capacity -- and will also have a private workout area and private sauna in a room near the hotel room in which they're staying. Fighters and their camp will not have access to any of these rooms until they have passed COVID-19 testing.
Fighters will also have three meals each day provided to them as well as a $150/day per diem for additional items.
How will travel and testing be handled?
Fighters and their camps will travel to, and fly out of, one of four hub cities to travel to Abu Dhabi. Those hub cities are Las Vegas, London, Sao Paulo and Moscow. For any fighter unable to travel one of those cities, the UFC states that special accommodations will be made. Before taking a flight, fighters and their camps must submit a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to departure.
Fighters will again be tested upon arrival in Abu Dhabi and will quarantine in their hotel rooms for up to 12 hours while waiting for the result of their test. Another test will be conducted in the hotel room following receiving the result of that test. One final pre-fight test will be conducted ahead of the fight and fighters will be tested one final time before their return flight home.
The following document was provided to fighters who are participating on the "Fight Island" cards.