- UFC 254 is the most significant martial arts event of the year as it brings together lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and provisional defending champion Justin Gaethje in the main event.
- It is the final of the second UFC residence on Fight Island. The second run in the quarantined Yas Island bubble in Abu Dhabi lasts six weeks.
- The UFC works with the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) in Abu Dhabi when it comes to international events in the Middle East.
- And a DCT official told Insider Thursday that they are looking into the option of moving the venue to the city’s Etihad Arena and letting fans in under a “partial fan allowance.”
- It would be the first time fans have attended a live UFC event since March, but it involves complex security protocols, so an official announcement is pending.
- You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.
FIGHT ISLAND – UFC 254 organizers are considering moving the event to an 18,000-seat arena and allowing some fans to attend the event, a tourism official told Insider this week.
“We’d love to see it happen,” Saeed Al Saeed, Abu Dhabi’s tourism director of marketing, told Insider.
It would be the first fan-attended UFC show since Weili Zhang disfigured Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a highly competitive slobberknocker at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 8th.
A slight union between reigning champions Khabib Nurmagomedov and provisional defending champions Justin Gaethje made headlines on UFC 254 more than seven months later, on October 24th.
It is supposed to take place at the Flash forum behind closed doors on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi in a quarantine bubble that the local government has set up specifically for the international events of the UFC.
So far, every Fight Island event has been held on the Flash forum. Although UFC 254 is eight days away, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) officials are considering the possibility of moving the event to the nearby Etihad Arena. New construction The DCT was also built with the UFC in mind.
In addition to UFC training Octagon on the beach at Yas Beach on Thursday, DCT marketing director Saeed Al Saeed told Insider that there could be fans at a new venue next week.
There are logistical challenges associated with changing arenas late, even more so when you consider the precautions required during a global pandemic.
“We demonstrated on Fight Island in July and on our return to Fight Island that health and safety are a top priority for everyone involved,” said Al Saaed.
“What we are seeing now is whether we are able to move venues. The arena is not in the safe zone.
“So if we are able to fight the fight there without compromising the security of the bubble, then it would be important to get people into the arena without them interacting in order to have the correct security measures and protocols to get them in and out. ”without endangering the bladder again.
“It’s not just us, the employees in Abu Dhabi, but everyone who has come to experience the safe zone – they are our responsibility.
“So when we say we’re going to put people outside the bladder into the same physical structure as [media, UFC staff, and athletes] We need to make sure there is no compromise and no risk and we have mitigated all of these potential violations. ”
This is what the Flash forum looks like:
This is what the newly built Etihad Arena looks like:
Here’s what it might look like from the inside, albeit more for a basketball game than a UFC event:
A source with direct knowledge of plans to allow fans in told Insider that if the event had an audience, each attendee would have to present a COVID-19 negative test with a validity of 48 hours.
Other security measures would include transporting the fans to the venue by sanitary buses and then through various entrances.
There would also be social distancing measures of two meters between each group of fans, there would be screens between the fans and the octagon, and there would be a staggered exit system back to the buses to transport fans to a drop off point.
Al Saeed also confirmed to Insider that a change of venue would be more of partial capacity than maximum attendance.
He gave no indication of how many fans could attend if the plans were put into effect.
“Everyone must be safe when they leave Fight Island,” he said. “We would like to do it, but we will not compromise on health and safety.”
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