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The UFC just wrapped up a whirlwind week in Abu Dhabi, with three
events in an eight-day span.

Though the promotion’s plans remain ever-tentative in the midst of
an ongoing pandemic, it doesn’t sound as though a return to “Fight
Island” will happen until summer. As of now, events through March —
and likely beyond — are expected to be held at the UFC Apex in Las
Vegas.

“If I had to map it out in my head, we’d come back in June or
July,” Dana White said at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference
on Saturday night. “Who knows? While we were here there was a new
inauguration and we’ll see what happens.

“Traveling in America I think is gonna be another massive challenge
for us this year.”

One positive from the series of events at Etihad Arena this past
week was the presence of fans in the 18,000-seat venue, which
coincided with Conor
McGregor
’s return to action. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols,
only about 2,000 people were allowed to attend each card. Still, it
made a difference in the atmosphere. The UFC hadn’t had fans in
attendance since UFC 248 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on
March 8, 2020.

Could the promotion have McGregor, still its top draw despite his
recent loss, compete at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas at an empty
arena? It’s possible, but White is taking a wait-and-see approach
regarding plans for U.S. events.

New U.S. President Joe Biden recently
signed an executive order
that requires international travelers
to have a negative COVID-19 test and to self-quarantine upon
arrival. If professional sports are not granted some type of
exemption, that could cause some complications for upcoming
cards.

“Coming into this thing, these fans here were great. It’s cool to
have fans,” White said. “We could do Conor at the Apex. I don’t
know what we’re gonna do. I don’t know what this year is gonna hold
for any of this stuff with what’s going on in the United
States.”

“Sounds like things are tightening up over there and talking about
a 14-day quarantine like Canada. If that happens, that’s gonna be a
problem.”

Of course, “Fight Island” was initially set up to get international
athletes who couldn’t otherwise travel to the U.S. on UFC cards. It
could return to being a hub like that in the near future.

“This situation is never going to be perfect, but Abu Dhabi is as
close to perfect, as you can get,” White said. “I might have to
move here this year. Yeah. It’s as close to perfect as you can get.
The way that these guys do everything, everything in this country
is done to the best of everybody’s ability. That’s incredible.”


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