UFC president Dana White has made it official: UFC 251 will take place live from Fight Island at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi with a monster card featuring three title fights on July 11, he announced on Tuesday.
Due to current COVID-19 related travel restrictions for international fighters coming into the United States, White has secured the location that will host four events starting next month. The UFC 251 card will feature a slew of championship fights headlined by Kamaru Usman defending his welterweight crown against Gilbert Burns, who punished former champion Tyron Woodley for five rounds back on May 30. The announcement rules out Jorge Masvidal’s anticipated title shot against Usman as he continues to hold out for what he deems appropriate pay for a championship bout.
The undercard of the event will be highlighted by Max Holloway making his anticipated return in an attempt to reclaim the featherweight belt from Alex Volkanovski, while Petr Yan gets a chance at the vacant bantamweight belt against Jose Aldo.
“We are a true global business; we’re the only ones that are pulling off live sports right now,” White said. “And if I continue to do fights in the United States, I’m gonna burn out all my American talent. So now we’ve got Yas Island ready to go; it’s set up.”
The UFC will host three other events — all Fight Night events — after UFC 251 on July 15, 18, and 25. The area of Yas Island will include an arena, hotel, training facilities and dining establishments, with only athletes, coaches, UFC staff and limited personnel allowed, according to ESPN.
The UFC last hosted an event in Abu Dhabi when lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September of 2019.