The UFC returned from the COVID break in 2020 with a very unique venue, creating “Fight Island” on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The location allowed the event to secure a “safety zone” for fighters, teams and essential workers to stay within. The first event was UFC 251 featuring Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal.
UFC Brings Fight Island To Life
As a way of creating a special and safe place to host events, UFC and UFC president Dana White embarked on the creation of Fight Island, a venue that would find a home on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The first event to be hosted there was UFC 251 on July 12, 2020.
With over 1.3 million buys, the event became a quick success, as Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title vs. Jorge Masvidal in the main event.
The card also featured a second title fight, as Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended his featherweight belt against former champion Max Holloway. Both fights went the distance.
Main Card Filled With Top Names
As a way of really generating headlines and interest, the promotion stacked the main card with some high-level talent. In a feature bantamweight bout, Petr Yan bested Jose Aldo with a fifth round TKO to claim the vacant bantamweight title.
Rose Namajunas earned a split decision over Jessica Andrade and Paige VanZant, who has become a well-known social media person, lost to Amanda Ribas via submission in the first round.
Jiri Prochazka, who would go on to claim the light heavyweight title, capped off the ESPN prelims with a second round knockout of Volkan Oezdemir. Also, Makwan Amirkhani won by technical submission when he locked in an anaconda choke on Danny Henry.
The event set a new mark for most total fight time, checking in three hours-plus. With three title fights, that should not come as a surprise. The previous record was set by an event headlined with Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura, who fought on the prelims of this card.
That mark, though, would later by surpassed by UFC 263, which came in at 3:19.32 in terms of total fight time.
Dana White On UFC 251, Fight Island