Fight Island Update
Hello and welcome to MMA Surge.
In a time where all sports have been forced to pause, reassess, reevaluate their entire process before proceeding, the UFC as an organization have managed to stand head and shoulders above the pack due to their complete and utter refusal to back down in the face of this global pandemic.
Whether you agree with their decision or not, Dana White and his team have gone above and beyond to ensure that their mixed martial arts product remains on your screens every months and while there have certainly been more than a few hiccups along the way, we’re still looking at another major UFC pay-per-view this weekend and to be honest, we, the fans couldn’t be happier for it.
And while we’ve seen events hosted in both the UFC APEX in Vegas and Jacksonville, Florida in recent weeks, the air of mystery that has surrounded UFC Fight Island has attracted quite a lot of attention to the promotion and the sport as a whole.
Sure, it instantly brings to mind memories of Bruce Lee’s 1973 classic Enter The Dragon – but what exactly is Fight Island and how big of a role should we expect it to play in the coming months?
Well first of all, it’s important to understand that this move by the UFC is one made with a long-term plan in mind. Not only should we expect to see Fight Island utilized well into the winter months, but based on what we know of the restrictions that are in place globally as a result of the coronavirus, the prospect of seeing 15,000 screaming fans under the one roof any time soon is very, very unlikely.
So in building the infrastructure on Yas Island, Dana and his crew have successfully beaten the competition to the punch – excuse the pun – allowing them to cut out the middle man, meaning the various arenas and stadiums who would usually host these events.
From what we’ve seen of Fight Island, the fighters are under strict supervision at all times – understandably so given the situation – but will have the freedom to continue their training in state of the art facilities while their meals, weight-cutting, and general health are being monitored.
Measures ranging from as CCTV surveillance to private flights and meal-ordering have been put in place to ensure that every possible step has been taken to keep risk levels down during fight-week, the event itself, and beyond.
Testing, according to Dana, has also been intensified since the move to Fight Island became a reality.
It’s understandable that there were some growing pains during the original set of shows under these new and unique circumstances but overall, it’s pretty clear to see that the promotion have taken extra care in both preventing an outbreak and also successfully keeping tabs on everyone who falls under their roof.
So on the night itself, the show should be pretty similar to the recent string of events that have been held without the presence of a crowd.
Commentators, officials, corner personnel, and essential staff will be in the arena, of course, but there will be a strict adherence to both social distancing and the usage of face-masks.
After this month, the UFC will make a return to Vegas’ APEX for five different events in the month of August – this time, according to UFC COO Lawrence Epstein, taking even greater measures to both minimize the on-site crew where possible on fight-night, and also to implement whatever lessons have been learned by the promotion abroad.
According to an interview with the COO – which was originally published on ESPN – the entire process has been helped to no end by the fact that the island itself, as a controlled environment, allows the UFC to monitor and control exactly who is coming and going from the premises – making it far easier to record and trace everything.
Fighters, staff, and personnel will now be tested up to five times during the course of their stay on Fight Island – measures that will be followed again for the next three Fight Island events – falling on July 15th, 18th and 25th.
Of course, the image of the octagon on the beach was understandably a source of confusion for a lot of fans – something I have no doubt that Dana intended but for the sake of being clear, no, the fights will never take place in the roaring Abu Dhabi heat.
That octagon is intended purely for media day events and, between you and me, the sheer luxury of drawing eyes in to what is a pretty wild move by the UFC brass.
As things stand, despite the change to the night’s main-event, the card will still feature three massive title fights and a scattering of big names, excellent prospects, and proven showstoppers.
And while the UFC have angered more than a few people with their persistent efforts to restore normality in a time where risk-taking is to be avoided, the manner in which they have pulled off this seemingly water-tight endeavor is pretty impressive, I’m not going to lie.
Let’s just hope that the lineup isn’t changed any further between now and fight-night.