Dana White says the bout could happen in Abu Dhabi, but not on the famed “Fight Island.”
“We owe them [fights],” White told reporters at a media scrum after the UFC Fight Night: Eye vs. Calvillo weigh-ins (via Steven Marrocco & Jose Youngs of MMA Fighting). “Yes (Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje is the front runner for an event in Abu Dhabi and not Fight Island).”
The UFC is holding four straight cards on “Fight Island,” but none of them will fulfill the promotion’s contractual obligations to the country of Abu Dhabi.
White also says holding “Fight Island” events on Yas Island helped with the production side of things.
“You couldn’t put the lighting grid on a beach,” he said. “You could try it – I don’t think it’s going to turn out very well. I’m afraid of the elements – wind, rain, all the things that could happen. I’m into the comfort and safety of an arena and pulling off a perfect show. Pulling off the fantasy of ‘Fight Island’ is pretty tough, and I think it would look like sh*t on TV, too.”
UFC 253 takes place on Saturday, September 19 from a location to be announced with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event. With a post-show podcast to follow.