‘Abu Dhabi Feels Like the New Fight Capital of the World’

Experienced Broadcaster Jon Anik labels UAE Capital the ‘Safest Place’ on Earth ahead of UFC Fight Island Triple Header Opening Night

Action-packed week of events at all-new Etihad Arena begins with UFC FIGHT NIGHT: HOLLOWAY vs KATTAR on Saturday January 16

Abu Dhabi, UAE, January 15, 2021: UFC Fight Island Triple Header, which marks the return of live public events in Abu Dhabi, reaffirms the Emirate’s status as the new international fight capital of the world, according to experienced MMA broadcaster Jon Anik.

The third installment of UFC Fight Island in the space of seven months kicks off on Saturday January 16 kicks off with a blockbuster UFC FIGHT NIGHT: HOLLOWAY vs. KATTAR, headlined by a featherweight bout between No. 1 ranked Max Holloway and No. 6 ranked Calvin Kattar. It is the inaugural event at the Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi’s latest world-class entertainment venue.

It is the first of three mega UFC events in seven days on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Wednesday January 20 will see another stacked fight card for UFC FIGHT NIGHT: CHIESA vs. MAGNY before a gripping series finale on Sunday January 24 with UFC 257: POIRIER vs. MCGREGOR – the Middle East debut of fan favourite Conor McGregor in a lightweight rematch with Dustin Poirier.

It promises to be a stellar series that only elevates Abu Dhabi’s standing as the ideal destination for world-class sports events.

“The embrace that we have gotten from this region is so special that it gives me chills just talking about it,” said Anik, who will be Octagon side in the Etihad Arena broadcasting the fights live for ESPN throughout the series. 

“I think I am probably more excited than anybody on our live production team to have fans back in the building. For the big fights, you really want to have a crowd. I can’t wait to have that support especially for Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier fight at the end of the week,” he added. 

“This place gets my blood flowing, and this feels a lot like the new fight capital of the world. It feels like the safest place in the world to be doing live sporting events right now and it is great to be back here for sure. 

UFC lightweight fight Paul Felder who is on Fight Island as part of the broadcast team, echoed Anik’s thoughts, marveling at Abu Dhabi’s meteoric rise as the combat sports capital of the world. 

“Well, I mean this is the fight capital for us. All our big fights are happening here and in Vegas. This is my third time on Fight Island, and you know we are in a very safe bubble here, so this is the one place I actually feel comfortable roaming around,” he said. 

The 36-year-old is no stranger to the UAE capital having fought and triumphed over Edson Barboza at UFC 242 in 2019 and is eager to return to the Octagon in Abu Dhabi in the near future: “When I fought here it was fantastic you know, it was before COVID-19, so it was a full stadium, and I had an absolute war with Barboza, and the fans showed their love for that fight and I’d love to come back and fight sometimes. I want to fight with a crowd, and I want to fight prime time here,” he said. 

Felder is also looking forward to the thrill of the action shifting to a brand-new arena, with the Etihad Arena ready to assume the mantle of the UFC’s international home. “I am excited to see it. I haven’t been in there yet, but it seems like it is up and running and it is good to go. We are going to be in an arena, in a stadium, so it’s going to have a whole new feel to it this time around,” he said.

“I mean if everything I have heard is true, we are in for a lot of special bells and whistles on Saturday night. I know the Arena is all systems go right now and I can’t wait to see it tomorrow for the first time,” added Anik.  

UFC Fight Island Triple Header continues on Wednesday, January 20, with another high-octane clash with Michael Chiesa facing Neil Magny in a highly anticipated welterweight main event.

Limited tickets are still available at etihadarena.ae or ticketmaster.ae

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