For its trio of events at “Fight Island” to open 2021, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will bring back something not seen since last March, namely: spectators.
On Thursday, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism announced that the three UFC cards scheduled for Jan. 16-24 on Yas Island—branded “Fight Island” by the promotion—will feature “a limited number of spectators.” The press release did not specify how many tickets would be sold for each show at Etihad Arena, whose normal capacity is approximately 18,000, but by Friday afternoon, individual seats for all three events were showing as sold out, with tickets available only as packages.
The UFC temporarily suspended its event schedule after UFC Fight Night 170 in Brasilia last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The promotion returned from that hiatus on May 9 with a trio of shows at VyStar Veterans Arena, followed by alternating runs in Abu Dhabi and at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, a total of 33 events, all of which took place in near-empty venues with no spectators.
The return of live crowds to UFC events comes just in time for the return of the promotion’s biggest star. The three-event stand in the UAE wraps up with the promotion’s first pay-per-view of the year, UFC 257 (Jan. 24) which is scheduled to be headlined by a rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Before that, the UFC will launch its venture with new broadcast partner ABC, with UFC on ABC 1 (Jan. 16) and a featherweight main event featuring former champ Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar, and UFC on ESPN 20 (Jan. 20) with welterweight contenders Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny set to headline.
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