Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena will stage its inaugural events later this month with fans in attendance for three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fight cards.

The mixed martial arts organisation and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) made the announcement today (Friday), marking the latest development in the ongoing relationship between the two parties.

This year’s UFC live event series will kick off with the third instalment of the Fight Island series on Yas Island, featuring three events in seven days and a “limited number” of fans at Etihad Arena. UFC Fight Night cards will be held on January 16 and 20, before the main event on January 24. UFC 257 will be headlined by the return of Conor McGregor in a rematch against Dustin Poirier.

These events will mark the first UFC shows with fans in attendance since COVID-19 took hold in March 2020. Speaking in November after UFC 255, UFC president Dana White had said he would not be interested in staging events in partially filled arenas or stadiums.

Limited tickets for the three events went on sale today, starting at AED595 (£119/€132/$162) for the first two cards and AED795 for UFC 257. “A third staging of UFC Fight Island in January not only cements Abu Dhabi’s standing as a world-class global destination for sport, but as one of the safest,” said H.E Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi.

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