UFC confirms 47 matchups for Fight Island events in Abu Dhabi

In this 2018 photo, Robert Whittaker reacts after his middleweight title bout against Yoel Romero at UFC 225. (Jim Young, File/AP)

The UFC officially unveiled earlier this month its highly anticipated Fight Island is the 25 square kilometre Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and that it will host four events there during July.

The organization confirmed this week 47 matchups scheduled to take place on Fight Island, including four title fights and several bouts featuring former champions.

After a near two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC has been consistently holding empty-venue events since mid-May with increased health and safety measures in place for participating fighters, their corners, plus any production staff.

They held three events at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., before shifting to the UFC APEX in Las Vegas for five events over the course of five consecutive weeks.

Due to travel restrictions, these recent events haven’t featured any fighters located outside the United States, which was a contributing factor in the UFC purchasing Fight Island in the first place.

The four upcoming events in Abu Dhabi feature many fighters that live and train overseas who are currently unable to compete in the U.S.

“I think this is going to be a really unique experience, not just for the fighters, but for us,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN when breaking down the July events. “It’s going to be cool. It’s going to be something different. It’s never been done before and however long this thing goes on and however long it’s hard to get people in from other countries, we will have these fights at Fight Island,”

With that in mind, here’s a look at the four Fight Island events:

July 11, UFC 251

The UFC is kicking things off with a bang as UFC 251 is a loaded lineup that features three championship bouts. It’s the only pay-per-view event of the bunch.

Gilbert Burns has gone 2-0 in empty-venue events and his back-to-back wins over Demian Maia and former welterweight titleholder Tyron Woodley saw him jump the line and earn a shot at the 170-pound strap. Reigning champ Kamaru Usman was supposed to defend against Jorge Masvidal but the popular veteran is currently in a contract dispute with UFC brass. Leon Edwards was also considered but Burns got the nod.

The co-main event is a fun rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway, who went five rounds in December at UFC 245 with Volkanovski earning a unanimous decision to dethrone Holloway.

With Henry Cejudo announcing his retirement and vacating the 135-pound title after UFC 249, rising star Petr Yan and former 145-pound champion Jose Aldo will meet for the vacant belt.

Former strawweight champions Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade meet in a rematch. Andrade, who lost the title to Weili Zhang in August, knocked Namajunas out with a slam when they fought last May. Namajunas hasn’t competed since.

Also of note, light-heavyweight knockout artist Volkan Oezdemir welcomes highly-touted prospect Jiri Prochazka to the UFC.

MAIN CARD
— Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns (for welterweight title)
— Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway (for featherweight title)
— Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo (for vacant bantamweight title)
— Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
— Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant

PRELIMINARY CARD
— Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
— Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov
— Makwan Amirkhani vs. Dan Henry
— Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov
— Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov
— Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
— Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo
— Martin Day vs. Davey Grant

July 15, UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige

Exciting featherweights Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige earned a main event slot thanks to impressive wins in May. Kattar knocked out Jeremy Stephens in devastating fashion, while Ige extended his winning streak to six with a split decision over Edson Barboza.

Former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar has been competing at featherweight for the past seven years but went 0-3 in title fights at 145 pounds and so now he’ll try his luck as a bantamweight. He debuts at 135 pounds against Pedro Munhoz, who holds a knockout win over former champ Cody Garbrandt.

Inaugural strawweight champ Carla Esparza is also featured on the main card.

MAIN CARD
— Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige
— Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz
— Carla Esparza vs. Marina Rodriguez
— Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Mounir Lazzez
— Jared Gordon vs. Chris Fishgold

PRELIMINARY CARD
— Modestas Bukauskas vs. Vinicius Moreira
— Molly McCann vs. Taila Santos
— Ricardo Ramos vs. Lerone Murphy
— John Phillips vs. Dusko Todorovic
— Tim Elliott vs. Ryan Benoit
— Diana Belbita vs. Liana Jojua

July 18, UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2

Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez fought for the vacant flyweight title on Leap Day and Figueiredo won via second-round TKO, however since he missed weight by 2.5 pounds he didn’t walk away with the belt. They’re the top-two ranked 125-pounders and that’s why the rematch was put together.

MAIN CARD
— Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez (for vacant flyweight title)
— Jack Hermansson vs. Kelvin Gastelum
— Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Fiziev
— Ariane Lipski vs. Luana Carolina
— Alexandre Pantoja vs. Askar Askarov

PRELIMINARY CARD
— Roman Dolidze vs. Khadis Ibragimov
— Grant Dawson vs. Nad Narimani
— Joe Duffy vs. Joel Alvarez
— Brett Johns vs. Montel Jackson
— Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Alexander Doskalchuk
— Davi Ramos vs. Arman Tsarukyan
— Carlos Felipe vs. Serghei Spivac

July 25, UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Till

Robert Whittaker hasn’t fought since losing his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in October. He takes on England’s Darren Till in a phenomenal stylistic matchup at 185 pounds. Till beat Kelvin Gastelum in November in his first fight since moving up from welterweight.

Whittaker joins fellow former champs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Fabricio Werdum on the card — Rua in a trilogy bout with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Werdum welcoming Alexander Gustafsson to the heavyweight division.

MAIN CARD
— Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till
— Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
— Alex Oliveira vs. Peter Sobotta
— Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Gustafsson
— Danny Roberts vs. Nicolas Dalby

PRELIMINARY CARD
— Tom Aspinall vs. Jake Collier
— Justin Tafa vs. Raphael Pessoa
— Movsar Evloev vs. Mike Grundy
— Bethe Correia vs. Pannie Kianzad
— Nathaniel Wood vs. Umar Nurmagomedov
— Ramazan Emeev vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.