The card is headlined by the highly anticipated clash between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight crown.
Amir Naqvi, Sports Editor
UFC returns to Abu Dhabi on October 22 as Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will square off at Etihad Arena on Yas Island for the vacant lightweight championship.
UFC 280: OLIVEIRA vs MAKHACHEV will be the latest event held in the UAE capital as part of a landmark partnership between the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) which began in 2019.
Promising to be another blockbuster night for MMA fans, the UFC 280 card will feature two mouth-watering bouts headlined by Oliveira and Makhachev. The second bout will be between bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and TJ Dillashaw.
While Abu Dhabi has hosted international UFC events throughout the pandemic, UFC 280 will be the first time events and activations return to the emirate in full physical form since UFC 242: Khabib vs Poirier in September 2019.
October will also see the return of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, a series of events from October 17-23 set to run alongside UFC 280, featuring city-wide activations including fan events, concerts and much more.
With just a month left until the highly anticipated bout, Gulf Today spoke to Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, Director General of Tourism at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
Excerpts from the interview.
What should we look forward to during Abu Dhabi Showdown Week?
UFC® 280: OLIVEIRA vs MAKHACHEV will be the sixth UFC event in Abu Dhabi, and we are proud to host the world’s premier MMA organisation again at Etihad Arena – the region’s largest multi-purpose indoor venue, set on the stunning waterfront of Yas Bay. As well as all these high-profile fights, Abu Dhabi Showdown Week will also bring a series of city-wide activities, including fan-zones, concerts, retail promotions, F&B deals, open workouts, and much more. Fans will not only witness the thrill of live events but have unique opportunities to attend and engage in various activities related to UFC and MMA in general.
As for the main event, UFC® 280: OLIVEIRA vs MAKHACHEV brings with it an exceptional fight-card featuring unmissable title bouts. These include Aljamain Sterling, the sixth-ranked fighter in the world, defending his Bantamweight crown against TJ Dillashaw. Then Islam Makhachev will go head-to-head with former UFC champion Charles Oliveira, the No.1 in the UFC lightweight rankings.
The partnership between DCT Abu Dhabi and UFC continues to grow from strength to strength and the aim is to bring fans the best events featuring the biggest names. We will continue doing the same in UFC® 280: OLIVEIRA vs MAKHACHEV and beyond.
Thanks to a growing appetite for UFC in Abu Dhabi, tickets for the UFC 280: OLIVEIRA vs MAKHACHEV sold out within hours. Previously, tickets for the first Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, UFC 242 Khabib vs. Poirier and UFC 257 Poirier vs. McGregor, also sold out in hours.
How does Abu Dhabi Showdown Week help Abu Dhabi portray itself as a global hub for sport?
Abu Dhabi is committed to building strategic partnerships with global stakeholders to offer action-packed sporting experiences for its residents and visitors. Abu Dhabi Showdown Week is a profound example of the strong collaborations between key Abu Dhabi Government stakeholders and international partners to host multiple sporting events across various locations. The event underlines Abu Dhabi’s status as a global destination with a rich, diverse offering of cultural, sport, entertainment, and leisure attractions.
Over the years, Abu Dhabi has staged successful global events and attracted visitors from across the globe for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, multiple UFC events, Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Indian Premier League, FINA World Championships and more, proving its ability to host major live sporting and entertainment events.
Abu Dhabi’s impact on the global sports and entertainment map continues with the return of ADSW and the much-anticipated UFC® 280: OLIVEIRA vs MAKHACHEV. The last quarter of the year will see major sporting events from the NBA and Formula 1, among others. Some of the hottest names in UFC will be in action just two weeks after the biggest stars in basketball have graced the same Abu Dhabi arena, while the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will bring its signature thrill to Yas Island just a few weeks later, in November.
How important is Abu Dhabi Showdown Week for the tourism authority?
Abu Dhabi Showdown Week is an important part of DCT Abu Dhabi’s ongoing strategy to share our emirate with the world and drive our sustainable growth as a world-class destination for tourism.
Abu Dhabi already has a stellar reputation for attracting international stars from screen, sports and music as it rapidly becomes renowned for hosting unforgettable events and experiences. So, Abu Dhabi Showdown Week and its many components are a fantastic opportunity to prove that the city has the infrastructure and capabilities to host such events, while positioning Abu Dhabi as the destination partner of choice.
The increase in visitor numbers from both the Gulf region and beyond also allows us to fulfil our mission to share Abu Dhabi with the world, bringing enriching experiences to our guests as they witness our culture, ideas, and shared landscape of possibilities. We truly look forward to welcoming everyone to sample the best of Arabian hospitality and our unmatched array of attractions.
So, we really hope that mixed martial arts fans take the time to explore all the emirate has to offer, such as riding the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, dune bashing in the world’s tallest sand dunes in the Empty Quarter, soaking up the sun on our pristine beaches, or enjoying the amazing dining spots on Yas Bay.
Whatever they’re seeking, there really is something for everyone in Abu Dhabi – a destination packed with exciting, inspiring and restoring experiences.