The athletes competing on “Fight Island” will have more room to work.
According to UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein via Yahoo, the UFC will employ the larger 30-foot octagon for all the fights taking place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi starting with UFC 251 next week.
Lately, the UFC has been using a smaller 25-foot cage for shows taking place in Las Vegas at the APEX facility. That arena was set up with a lighting structure specifically built with the 25-foot cage in mind, which is one of the reasons that hasn’t changed with more and more events being held there.
There has been a lot of debate lately about the number of finishes happening in the smaller cage versus the larger octagon. UFC President Dana White downplayed the idea that the smaller cage somehow resulted in more exciting fights or finishes.
“Were the fights in Jacksonville bad?” White said in June when asked about the results from the smaller cage. “They were great. It’s all an illusion. It’s bullsh*t. It’s not true.”
There will be a total of four title fights held on “Fight Island” including three bouts on UFC 251 as well as a new flyweight champion being crowned on the July 18 card.
In addition to the larger octagon being used when the UFC kicks off four shows in July, it appears there’s a chance a small group of VIP fans may be in attendance.
Epstein said there was the possibility a few VIP guests could be invited to attend the cards but the shows would not be open to the general public at all. If VIP guests were invited, Epstein stated that it would be less than two dozen people total.
The UFC set up extensive protocols for all of the fighters and their teams traveling to Abu Dhabi starting including testing for COVID-19 as well as private, chartered flights. The area set up for “Fight Island” will be cordoned off for only UFC personnel and staff including media but no one else will be allowed into that area during the period where events will be taking place.
The first “Fight Island” card kicks off on July 11 with UFC 251 following by shows on July 15, July 18 and July 25.