Abu Dhabi will be the first place UFC holds events with fans, according to company President, Dana White, who is hoping for an “International Fight Week”-type event next year. When will fans be able to atte…
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Abu Dhabi will be the first place UFC holds events with fans, according to company President, Dana White, who is hoping for an “International Fight Week”-type event next year.
When will fans be able to attend an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event again?
It’s a question we’ve been asking for a while, and up until this point company President, Dana White, has said it’s one he has no answer for, that he’s not even thinking about bringing fans back given the situation with the worldwide pandemic. But now that has changed, and it sounds like the answer is early 2021 … if you’ve got the cash to make it to “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“What we’re going to do, hopefully soon, is give the fans the opportunity to come to ‘Fight Island,’” White told BT Sports. “And this place will be the first place to have a live crowd. Early next year.”
Early 2021, huh? With a Conor McGregor fight possibly coming together on Jan. 23, 2021, we wonder whether that would be the target date for fans. UFC 254 was almost the first UFC event to allow a limited number of general public to attend, but the local government nixed that idea for the moment.
“I’m telling you right now, I believe Abu Dhabi is probably going to be one of the first places in the world that opens up to the fans because they have everything so dialed in over here,” White said. “And when we do and we do an event here, the people have seen we have showcased everything that this city has to offer. You see that Octagon down on the beach, that shot we did on Saturday where it comes from the sky down over the beach with the pool on the beach. The bar, all the different restaurants that are here, and and the hotels.
“This is a destination, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that,” he continued. “People are now realizing that Abu Dhabi is a bucket list destination. So I think that when we put on our first live event here with fans, people are going to fly in from all over the world. And it’s one of the things that I want to work on you know with the powers that be here is, making like when we open it up to the fans, make the whole week something cool to do every day almost like International Fight Week in Vegas, but doing that here in Abu Dhabi. Because there’s so much to do so much to see so many great places to eat, it’s going to be awesome.”
If this sounds like one big commercial for Abu Dhabi, it’s because that’s exactly what “Fight Island” has been from the beginning. The U.A.E. government isn’t splashing out all the cash to cover for the infrastructure and safety protocols just because it’s huge fans of UFC … this is all about raising its nation’s stature in the global marketplace and in that way “Fight Island” has been a massive, massive success.
We imagine they’re drooling over the potential to host a Conor McGregor fight. With something that big, it may (as Dana White has often repeated) actually seize the title as “Fight Capital of the World” (during Covid-19, at least).
Of course, with case numbers rising at alarming rates around the world as everyone enters a second wave, there’s a good chance none of this happens. We don’t blame UFC for getting cocky after several events on “Fight Island” without a single sick person making it through into the bubble, but statistically speaking, we’re not so sure bringing 10,000+ people in will be as smooth. But hey, that’s a problem for the epidemiologists of Abu Dhabi to deal with. What do you think, Maniacs?
UFC 254 could be a milestone for Khabib Nurmagomedov if he wins, and perhaps for the sport too. A lot of weird details went into making the UFC what it was. The weirdest? Knowing where the Octagon itself c…
A lot of weird details went into making the UFC what it was. The weirdest? Knowing where the Octagon itself came from: none other than Hollywood scribe John Milius. Milius, who once described his own politics as Zen fascist, directed some of your 80’s favorites, like ‘Red Dawn’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian’. For all the oddities, from the allowance of nut shots to the proposed razor wire atop the fence, it was the milquetoast fight proverb ‘styles make fights’ that defined the UFC for years to come.
For a time, Royce Gracie was the UFC, and vice versa. Physically, Gracie wasn’t what you’d call a specimen. Yet this sinewy little man armed with nothing more than his dignified facial features was considered the apex predator of facepunching. It took two years for the sport to make him look human. Although the less said about watching that moment live, the better. Grappling remained the dominant art, even if they didn’t personify Gracie jiu jitsu. Dan Severn, Mark Coleman — it wasn’t until Maurice Smith in 1997 that we began to see a slight shifting of the guard. It was shortlived thanks to Randy Couture. But it was around that time that we began to see the future of mixed martial arts with hybrid fighters like Kazushi Sakuraba and Frank Shamrock.
For the early champs, it wasn’t about having multiple tools you could use for an equal balance of proactive and reactive lines of fighting. It was about having one tool your opponent couldn’t stop. Nowadays, the strikers can submit the black belts, and the black belts can knock out the strikers.
And that’s what makes Khabib Nurmagomedov a breath of fresh air. I know what you’re thinking fight nerds. ‘Are you implying that Khabib is one-dimensional? What the hell are you talking about? Haven’t you seen him reverse hook shuck while throwing a Koichi Wajima-inspired frog punch? Khabib’s as complete as they come!’
Let’s stop right there. Yes, Khabib is well-rounded. Not only is he well-rounded, but he has a fantastic understanding of what kind of strike catalog fits in well with his takedown entries, like a steady selection of uppercuts to setup body control, and overhand rights against opponents dropping their hands to anticipate a double leg. I read Connor’s article too. It’s important technical analysis that factors into Khabib’s planned action within the fight. But these skills are peripheral to Khabib’s planned purpose — which is put you on your back, and squeeze the life out of you.
That’s what makes Khabib a throwback. Where modern fighters are overly concerned about the right balance of skills, Khabib is overly concerned with tilting the balance completely. However, this isn’t just mere fight philosophy. I think it speaks to mechanics as well. As in: like many throwback fighters, their flaws don’t just stand out as skills they lack in proportion to their strengths, but as skills they lack, period.
Let’s start with Khabib’s strike selection. While he does a lot to support his takedown entries, that only makes them good strikes in conjunction with his wrestling. On their own, they’re just sound and fury. He tends to lean in with his jab, and the end result is that his follow up punches leave him out of position; an ideal fight state for an opponent capable of returning fire. He’s able to mask his punches well, but he doesn’t mask his strikes consistently, and once he throws, he tends to stay there, sometimes taking entire rounds off to strike with the opponent.
He has a darting, striking style that works in an abstract sense — doubling as part of what adds velocity to a fight game built on momentum — but I think it also reveals his flawed execution; not quite able to calibrate the shifts, pivots, and switches in strike progression. It’s something that plays out in his defensive game, where he’s never able to angle out. Sure enough, that’s exactly how Dustin Poirier caught him. Nurmagomedov darted in, darted back out, and Poirier, seeing the predictability of his in-and-out movement, caught him.
I mention all of this because I think Justin Gaethje is a legitimate threat to exploit all of these flaws. Against Tony Ferguson, you saw a committed attack on the legs. Except Gaethje is not an in-and-out fighter. Ferguson might have been able to land more punches, except Gaethje would often pivot out immediately following a low kick. This shifting out of the pocket would result in punches upstairs, more movement, or more leg kicks. Eventually Justin turned him into a bloody mess in what turned into a lopsided fight.
As a quick aside, I’m picking Gaethje. His combination of movement, raw power, and mixture of athleticism and technical wrestling prowess leads me to believe he can do it. And with Lomachenko vs. Lopez still fresh in our minds, something about a Gaethje win feels written in the stars, as goofy as that sounds.
But this is about Khabib. And to that extent, we can comfortably say that a potential win over Gaethje would be massive. Not because it would be another successful title defense — although that’s certainly part of it — but because being able to fight beyond and through your weaknesses is all the more impressive. It used to happen with regularity. Now it’s the exception.
What Khabib brings to MMA is something we rarely see: a sequence of rhythm and progression that transforms each fight into a marathon rather than a sprint. That grueling sequence is why Conor’s striking in round three at UFC 229 looked so much different than Conor’s striking as we typically know it. Khabib knows this. Which is why he actively takes advantage of it. It demands opponents to endure, for one moment more.
I’m sure if Khabib wins, a lot will be said about his status among the MMA gods. Frankly, MMA hasn’t been around long enough to talk of rich history, and rich legacies. Whether Khabib goes down as one of the greats is not an interesting discussion for me. But just like when it all began with nothing more than the imaginations of anarchist filmmakers and television producers inspired by Mortal Kombat, there’s still greatness in limitations.
The relationship between UFC president, Dana White and former welterweight champion, Tyron ‘The Chosen One’ Woodley has been called into question time and time again over the last couple of years – with the promotional leader today labelling the Missouri veteran, “the hardest kid I’ve (he’s) ever dealt with“”. Woodley, who has dropped his last […]
The relationship between UFC president, Dana White and former welterweight champion, Tyron ‘The Chosen One’ Woodley has been called into question time and time again over the last couple of years – with the promotional leader today labelling the Missouri veteran, “the hardest kid I’ve (he’s) ever dealt with“”.
Woodley, who has dropped his last three contests on the trot, has been criticised in the past by White, particularly for his lacklustre performance at UFC 214 in July of 2017 where he scored a unanimous decision win over challenger, Demian Maia to retain his welterweight throne – in one of the most forgettable five-round contests in the promotion’s history.
Straying from an approach which seen him clinch the throne from Robbie Lawler in the summer of 2016, and score four successful defences, a massively gunshy Woodley dropped the crown to incumbent best, Kamaru Usman, before defeats to incoming title challenger, Gilbert Burns, and former interim champion, Colby Covington since March of last year.
“I would say the hardest kid I ever dealt with, and everybody thinks that I don’t like him, it has to be (Tyron) Woodley,” White told Virgin Radio host, Kris Fade. “Woodley’s the hardest kid I’ve ever dealt with. I look at what he could have done and what he should have done. Good looking kid, physique, the whole thing, becomes (sic) a world champion, has that knockout power, has all the tools and everything else, but it’s just always pulling teeth with him and it’s always about something else other than the fight.” (H/T Aaron Bronsteter)
UFC 254 title challenger Justin Gaethje opens up on how much his parents helped him become the man he is now and how he’ll repay them with the earnings from Saturday’s fight. If you were about to potentially bec…
Instagram / Justin Gaethje
UFC 254 title challenger Justin Gaethje opens up on how much his parents helped him become the man he is now and how he’ll repay them with the earnings from Saturday’s fight.
If you were about to potentially become a multi-millionaire off a hard night’s work, I’m sure many of you would say you’d take the money and retire.
Not Justin Gaethje, who faces UFC Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, this Saturday (Oct. 24, 2020) in Abu Dhabi. Gaethje plans to retire … his parents. Carolina and John Ray Gaethje will be one of the tiny handful of people allowed into the “Fight Island” bubble, something Gaethje demanded of UFC and the promotion allowed.
“My parents have never been flown international,” Gaethje said. “They got to fly business class, they’ve never flown business class. My dad retired a little over a year ago, he worked 37 years in a copper mine. My mom, she’s going to retire … this fight starts, the bell rings at the beginning, then I will secure that she’ll retire after this fight. And she’s been working 35 years.
“They’ve never had a chance to fly international,” he continued. “Every bit of money they had went to me and my brother and my sister, giving us opportunities. We were 2 hours from any city. Going school clothing shopping was a vacation for us. We’d get up go to wresting tournaments two to three hours away, sometimes we’d stay the night. And they’d take financial hits every time we did that. Nothing is better on earth than being able to repay that.”
As for whether having them in the arena during the fight would help him? Gaethje indicated it would not.
“And for them to be here… when I step into the Octagon, nothing matters,” he said. “They’re not there. My coach Trevor Wittman is there, that’s the only voice I can hear. And that’s all that matters to me. But, I’m very happy that they get to experience this.”
In an earlier interview with TSN, Gaethje revealed just how involved his parents were in making sure he made the right decisions growing up … down to his mother having Justin drug tested every week.
“Until you’re 18, you don’t have the ability to make the choices that you should be making,” he said. “I’m glad she drug tested me every week because I wasn’t in a position to not make terrible choices.
“My life has been organized and planned for me in a sense since I was a child,” he continued. “I had practice at three o’clock, and I had to show up. I had practice at six o’clock for another sport, and I had to show up and they always made sure I was there.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images
Karim Zidan delves into Dricus du Plessis’s comments on ‘farm murders’ in South Africa and how the tragic crimes have been coopted by white supremacist groups around the world. It took…
Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images
Karim Zidan delves into Dricus du Plessis’s comments on ‘farm murders’ in South Africa and how the tragic crimes have been coopted by white supremacist groups around the world.
It took Dricus du Plessis a little more than 3 minutes to make an emphatic statement during his UFC debut.
The former EFC two-division champion and KSW titleholder proved himself worthy of a main card debut when he faceplanted Marcus Perez in the opening round of their UFC Fight Island 5 showcase. Then, after scaling the cage in celebration, the 26-year-old headed backstage, where he spoke about the controversial topic of farm attacks taking place in his native South Africa.
“South Africa is going through so much, if you look at it from a political stance,” Du Plessissaid during his post-fight interview. “We have farm murders that are really taking the whole country by storm. It’s something unbelievable. People are getting murdered daily and I almost feel like because it’s Africa a lot of the world doesn’t see it, and nobody in the world really knows what’s going on there.
“I’ve just got this opportunity on a bigger stage to say ‘let’s stop the farm murders’ and I want people to see what’s happening in South Africa,” he added. “It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world and it’s being ruined by stuff like this. “We don’t need that, so let’s stick together as a country, and as humanity, and let’s beat this thing.”
Du Plessis’s statements on ‘farm murders’ taking place with South Africa refers back to an issue that has gripped the African nation for several years with gradually increasing tensions as a result. The aforementioned attacks target farmers, mostly white, and farm workers, who are black, and have been the subject of increased scrutiny and discussion by South African press and the international media. In some cases, the unsubstantiated claims that such attacks are mainly aimed at white farmers has helped propagate the white genocide conspiracy theory that is a hallmark of white supremacists and neo-Nazis around the world.
When police arrived on scene at the DeRots farm in South Africa’s Free State province, they found the body of Brendin Horner tied to a pole with a rope around his neck.
The 21-year-old farm manager had been brutally assaulted and murdered by two suspects who fled the scene of the crime. According to the report, there were injuries to his head and face and he was declared dead at the scene.
The next day, local detectives arrested two men, aged 34 and 43, and charged them with murder.
“Blood-stained clothes and shoes were found and will be taken in for forensic tests. The two men are alleged to be stock thieves and it is suspected that the deceased could have spotted them on that fateful day,” saidFree State police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele.
The two suspects were scheduled to appear at a Senekal Magistrate court on Oct. 6, 2020. However, when the two men arrived at the courthouse, a crowd of violent demonstrators demanding justice for Horner had gathered outside. Chaos ensued.
However, the incident only served to heighten tensions in South Africa. Freedom Front Plus, a right-wing political party founded in 1994, condemned the murder while AfriForum, a nationalist group focused on the rights of Afrikaners (a subsect of the country’s white population), called the incident a “form of terrorism.”
Police Minister General Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, revealed that she has received numerous threating calls since the courthouse incident, ““It is worrying that I continue to receive abusive and insulting and racist phone calls from anon[anonymous] people and some identify themselves as farmers from Senekal. These calls are being taken seriously and are being looked into by [the police],” Themba tweeted.
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, appealed to nation by rejecting claims that the farm attacks were part of an orchestrated campaign by Black South Africans against the country’s white minority.
“Numerous studies show that crime in farming communities is largely opportunistic. Rural communities are more vulnerable because of their isolated location and, as a result, the relative lack of access to security and other services. Contrary to the irresponsible claims of some lobby groups, killings on farms are not ethnic cleansing. They are not genocidal. They are acts of criminality and must be treated as such,” Ramaphosa wrote.
Farm attacks—defined as certain crimes or acts of violence committed on farms or small holdings—are not a new occurrence. The South African Agricultural Union (now Agri SA) registered 677 murders and 3065 attacks between 1991 and 1997. In 1997, the police’s Crime Information Analysis Centre (CIAC) began collecting data on farm attacks, and made farm attacks and murders a priority crime in 1998. In 2001, the CIAC revealed that of the 1,398 people attacked on farms, 61.6% were white, 33.3% were Black. However, a 2003 committee of inquiry into farm attacks concluded that none of the statistics were completely accurate. The data is also almost two decades old and should not be considered representative of the current situation.
Despite statistical evidence and Ramaphosa’s salient points, white supremacists around the world have used these well publicized farm attacks as a battle cry to advance their white genocide conspiracy theories.
Fuel for Conspiracies
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, graphic images of brutal farm attacks have been widely shared across social media, heightening anxiety and tension regarding the heinous crimes and their potential targets.
Despite the growing angst coupled with pressure from lobby groups, statistics have shown that farm murders and attacks have not increased during the national lockdown period. Police figures claim that there were 80 attacks between January and March, while April-June carried 48. In comparison, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TAU SA) found 26 farm murders and 141 attacks in the first half of 2020 (as compared to 194 farm attacks and 29 murders in the first half of 2019).
The police also reported 47 farm murders in the 2018/19 fiscal year, which is down from 62 in 2017/18 and 66 in 2016/17.
It should also be noted that, on average, 58 people are murdered every day in South Africa. The total number of murder in 2018/19 was more than 21,000, up 35% from murder rates seven years prior. According to Ramaphosa, the “majority of victims of violent crime are Black and poor, and it is young Black men and women who are at a disproportionately greater risk of being murdered.”
As such, there is little evidence that white South Africans are being targeted with excessive violence or racially motivated attacks. However, this has not stopped groups such as South Africa’s white rights activists from using the fear of a racial violence to pressure their government into action, or from white supremacists and sympathetic audiences from amplifying their message.
In short, media attention to violence against white people has increased, which in turn creates the illusion of a race war or genocide.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson has repeatedly devoted time on his show to discuss the supposed campaign against white farmers. In 2018, he claimed that South Africa’s government had begun seizing land from white farmers for having the “wrong skin color.” The report got the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted that he asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures” even though Carlson was forced to walk back his false statements shortly thereafter.
The farm attacks have also gotten the attention of several notable political figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, who encouraged South African farmers to immigrate to Russia, and Australian Ministers of Home Affairs Peter Dutton—an anti-immigration champion and proponent of offshore detention for asylum seekers—suggested a policy that would offer special visas for white South African farmers.
Even the term “farm attacks” has been criticized as a political dog whistle that signals a form of genocidal attack against white people. Human Rights Watch has criticized the use of the term which they regard as “suggesting a terrorist or military purpose.”
“No matter who we are, no matter what community we live in, no matter our race, creed or language, we should be as deeply affected by the death of Brendin Horner as we are by many other South Africans who die violent deaths each year,” president Ramaphosa said last week.
Though Du Plessis statements on the “farm murders” were likely an attempt to raise awareness regarding an issue that has gripped his homeland, it is important to understand that it is part of a wider problem with crime in South Africa and not a racially driven genocide against the country’s white minority.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
UFC president Dana White is once again refusing to be flexible with his biggest star regarding a proposed January rematch with Dustin Poirier. Conor McGregor keeps on trying to att…
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
UFC president Dana White is once again refusing to be flexible with his biggest star regarding a proposed January rematch with Dustin Poirier.
Conor McGregor keeps on trying to attach stipulations to his next UFC fight, and UFC president Dana White keeps knocking them down.
The latest attempt to maintain a shred of decision making ability for his proposed fight against Dustin Poirier to be vetoed by the boss? McGregor and Poirier had both agreed to face each other at 170 pounds rather than their more typical 155 pound division. But according to White, that ain’t gonna happen.
“It’s 155 pounds,” White said in an interview with broadcast partner BT Sport. “I’m not putting on a frigging multi-million dollar fight at a catchweight that means nothing. It means nothing at 170. Neither one of those two are ranked at 170 pounds, and it doesn’t do anything in the 155-pound division if either one of them win. Because they’re fighting at 170. It literally makes no sense.”
Dana White echoes Khabib, says Conor vs Poirier MUST happen at 155……wow.
This is all quite humiliating for McGregor, who desperately wanted this fight to happen at Welterweight.pic.twitter.com/TiNn6u7Qkp
But that was old White, whose sport was largely surging along the tide that McGregor brought. Now the UFC is surging on a massive wave of success brought on by the ESPN deal and people being stuck at home during the pandemic getting into the sport.
Those who have been around for a while know the UFC prefers it when fans are there for the UFC, not individual UFC fighters. Which of course makes sense from a certain business point of view, if you ignore all the mega-stars the UFC has thrown out with the bathwater trying to keep the brand as king.
However you feel about all that, and despite White denying Conor’s demands on timeline, location, and now weight, the UFC president thinks he’ll still get McGregor back in the cage for January.
“Listen, Conor likes to play games,” he said. “Conor plays games, and he does his thing. One thing Conor doesn’t do? Conor doesn’t commit to a fight and then not fight. Conor fights.”
Worth noting: no contracts have been signed for McGregor vs. Poirier on January 21st. What are the chances this fight still happens with the UFC saying no all the way?