Updated April 29, 2019 - 6:33 pm
The UFC will return to Abu Dhabi for the first time since 2014 when UFC 242 hits the market on Sept. 7.
It will be the first card of a new deal that will bring annual events with at least one title fight to the United Arab Emirates capital for the next five years.
A partnership between the UFC and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism was announced late Sunday night.
“We are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi because we have had great success in that market,” UFC president Dana White said in a news release. “The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE.”
No fights have been announced for the card, though lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has indicated he expects to headline the September event in a title unification bout against interim champ Dustin Poirier.
In addition to the Fight Night card in 2014, UFC 112 was held in Abu Dhabi in 2010. Each of the events was held in a temporary outdoor venue. No location has been announced for UFC 242.
Hall helps grant wishes
There were a lot of smiling faces at UFC headquarters Monday when the organization was part of the largest reveal the Southern Nevada Make-A-Wish chapter has ever done.
UFC middleweight Uriah Hall may have flashed the biggest grin of all as he participated in the festivities.
“For me, personally, I love this,” said the Las Vegan, who has won two of his past three fights. “I used to teach children and I understand the value of giving them something back to let them grow. For these kids where they are, they don’t really have a lot so to grant a wish for them I’m sure is a huge thing.”
The event was held in coordination with World Wish Day 2019. Twelve local children had their wish granted at the event, including several Disney trips and a shopping spree in Los Angeles.
According to Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada president and CEO Caroline Ciocca, UFC raised more than $250,000 last year to help grant wishes.
“Our generous partner, UFC, has once again stepped up to help us make dreams come true,” she said. “This event and partnership is the perfect way to mark World Wish Day in Southern Nevada.”
Hardy likens himself to Mike
Former NFL standout Greg Hardy earned his first official UFC win Saturday night when he knocked out Dmitrii Smoliakov in the first round of their UFC Fight Night bout in Sunrise, Florida.
Hardy wasn’t shy about hyping his own potential as a fighter.
“These heights have been reached yet,” Hardy said. “This is going make Bo Jackson look like a joke. I’m the fight-sports-athlete version of what (Michael) Jordan can be. This is just getting started. We’re scratching the surface, basically.”
Hardy is 4-1 as a pro with the lone loss coming by disqualification in his UFC debut in January.
McGregor return near?
Former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor may technically still be retired, but his return to competition is starting to appear inevitable.
After a fan tweeted to McGregor to tell him he should just enjoy his life and keep investing and making money instead of putting himself through the rigors of fighting anymore, the star fighter responded on social media.
“I hear you but I love it dearly,” McGregor wrote. “If I am being honest with myself I don’t think I will ever be able to fully walk away from fighting. We are all fighters in this world and each of us will be fighting for the rest of our time here. So why not do it live on PPV, baby. Pop a bottle!”
I hear you but I love it dearly. If I am being honest with myself I don’t think I will ever be able to fully walk away from fighting.
We are all fighters in this world and each of us will be fighting for the rest of our time here. So why not do it live on PPV baby. Pop a bottle! https://t.co/5C5w2Awis7
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 28, 2019
White said he plans to meet McGregor in Los Angeles next month to discuss a possible return to action.
■ Friday: Invicta FC: Phoenix Rising Series 1 (Fight Pass), Kansas City, Kan.
■ Saturday: Bellator Birmingham (Paramount), Birmingham, England
■ Saturday: UFC Fight Night 150 (ESPN-Plus), Ottawa, Ontario
■ May 11: Bellator 221 (Paramount), Rosemont, Ill.
■ May 11: UFC 237 (ESPN/ESPN+ PPV), Rio de Janeiro
■ May 18: UFC Fight Night 151 (ESPN-Plus), Rochester, N.Y.