The UFC docked for the third time at Combat Island, and this time a few outdated rivals are able to make the journey, with a number of thousand followers able to attend fights for the primary time in 10 months.
They might cheer tougher on Conor McGregor.
The primary of three consecutive struggle nights on the Etihad Enviornment on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island begins Saturday when Max Holloway (21-6) fights Calvin Kattar (22-Four) in a 145-pound struggle in the primary occasion of the primary fight sports activities card. broadcast on ABC since 2000. UFC welterweights Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny struggle in the primary occasion of Wednesday’s ESPN undercard.
That is only a snack for UFC 257 on January 24 when McGregor returns from a yr off for a rematch in opposition to Dustin Poirier within the first pay-per-view of the promotion of the yr.
By then, McGregor might know if one other rematch is doubtlessly on the desk, this one in opposition to undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired in October with a 29-Zero file after retaining his light-weight championship. McGregor’s final loss was in opposition to Nurmagomedov in October 2018 in a struggle recognized extra as a post-fight melee that spilled out of the Octagon. Saddened by the latest demise of his father and mentor, Nurmagomedov surprisingly retired in his prime after beating Poirier in Abu Dhabi.
UFC president Dana White desires considered one of his prime field workplace attracts to struggle once more, possibly go 30-Zero and go from there. The 2 are scheduled to fulfill in some unspecified time in the future in Abu Dhabi.
“It is sure or no,” White mentioned by cellphone from Abu Dhabi. “He was trying ahead to stepping into that final struggle, he was clearly very excited, he was overwhelmed, he was harm. I used to be below large strain. Now he has had a number of free time. He’s cured. He is aware of if he desires to struggle once more or not. I feel it is going to be a really fast dialog. If you happen to say no, then you do not. I will not even say one other phrase. “
White’s intuition? “I really feel like he has another in him and he’ll say sure.”
White might solely want her relationship was that straightforward with McGregor.
McGregor (22-Four) fights for the primary time since his knockout victory in opposition to Donald Cerrone final January and just for the third time since 2016. McGregor, 32, who grew to become MMA’s largest star along with his heavy fists And promotional acumen, he stayed away from the cage largely due to his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, his burgeoning liquor firm, retirement claims, and a number of arrests.
McGregor and White clashed in public final yr when the previous featherweight and light-weight champion launched a collection of Instagram direct messages in a “he said-he mentioned” trade about potential preventing opponents.
“Truthfully, on the time, I did not assume we have been going to recover from that,” White mentioned. “I used to be actually sad about it. I used to be fallacious. He and I ended up speaking and we mounted it. “
They’ve buried the ax, as businessmen are inclined to do with a number of million dollars at stake, and White mentioned McGregor appears as centered and assured in preventing as he has been in years.
“I do not know if I’d say he wasted (main years) as a result of should you take a look at what he completed within the brief period of time he was right here and, pay attention, the boy did, and nonetheless makes a ton of cash a yr,” he mentioned. “He took benefit of his superstar and what he has carried out right here within the UFC to generate income outdoors of the UFC, which is difficult for anybody to do. He did not simply make some cash. He made a considerable amount of cash that modified his life. “
McGregor has lengthy helped the UFC set field workplace data – his 40-second KO of Cerrone earned round 1.Four million purchases. However he was absent when the promotion moved ahead in 2020 within the face of a pandemic and held occasions nearly each weekend. The UFC, in actuality, White, was criticized for going forward within the wake of a pandemic, and he responded with a virtually five-minute lengthy propaganda video during which particular shops and writers have been convicted of talking out in opposition to the promotion. UFC used to go door-to-door with newspapers and different media shops searching for protection of their occasions and fighters. White would beg ESPN for the highlights of its programming and now the UFC is tied to the sports activities community in a $ 1.5 billion deal.
Received. Nevertheless it hasn’t been sufficient for the person who as soon as dodged the infamous crime boss Whitey Bulger’s cash collectors.
“Belief me, that was the primary spherical,” White mentioned. “I’ve one other one on the best way.”
White mentioned a UFC-produced documentary on how he navigated the early days of the pandemic is in preparation and targets the media that he says “tried to close us down.”
“I do know all of the media desires to assume that they’re all good, however not all of them are good,” White mentioned.
It’s the media that additionally spreads the phrase of UFC headlines, together with a change in anti-doping coverage during which it would not punish fighters for utilizing marijuana normally; a contribution of $ 1 million this week to mind trauma analysis; the continuing struggle in opposition to PPV piracy; and a doable involvement with Johns Hopkins College on its research of psychedelics as a method of bettering wrestlers’ mind well being.
White had been adamant about not eager to stage massive fights with no full home, however when the Abu Dhabi Division of Tradition and Tourism mentioned it was time to allow them to in, he relented.
The UFC determined to not make synthetic noise from the group, to make use of cardboard cutouts or every other kind of methods that different sports activities leagues used to enhance the environment throughout their broadcasts. The struggle night time noise had been merely a punch to the face, though as of Saturday, some 2,000 followers are anticipated to attend every occasion in Abu Dhabi.
“I will do what these guys need,” White mentioned. “In the event that they wish to put 2,000 or two individuals right here, I do not care. But when we go to a spot in the US or wherever else, I am not going to place anybody there except I can promote it. “