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UFC announces return to Abu Dhabi, five-year partnership

UFC Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

The UFC is breaking new ground in the United Arab Emirates.

On Sunday evening, officials announced that the promotion has agreed to a five-year partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) ahead of the upcoming UFC 242 event that will take place on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. MMA Fighting previously reported the Sept. 7 plans and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has said he expects to headline the event, presumably against interim champion Dustin Poirier.

A venue for UFC 242 is still to be determined.

Per a release, the UFC-DCT Abu Dhabi partnership is a result of the emirate’s Advantage Abu Dhabi program, which is designed to support and provide benefits to organizers arranging festivals and events in the region. The release also states that “over the course of the partnership, subsequent UFC events held in Abu Dhabi will be headlined by at least one championship bout.”

The UFC has twice visited Abu Dhabi, first back on April 12, 2010, with UFC 112, a show that saw Frankie Edgar upset B.J. Penn for the lightweight title and Anderson Silva successfully defend his middleweight title against Demian Maia in the main event. Four years later, the UFC returned with a fight night event headlined by Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

“We are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi because we have had great success in that market,” UFC president Dana White said in the release. “The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE.

“I’m very excited about this partnership and what it will mean for the growth of this sport and for UFC in the region.”

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