UFC Set to Announce Abu Dhabi Show Next Week

via cdn3.sbnation.com


Per Dave Meltzer:

The press conference for UFC 112, which will take place April 10, is expected to include the announcement of three top matches, including two championship bouts.

"We’re going to have a big press conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, with our new partners from the region, Flash," said Marshall Zelaznik, the UFC’s managing director of international expansion. "[Zuffa CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] and myself will be there with some of the biggest names on the UFC roster. I don’t want to give away the official announcement, but this will be a very unique show and not just because the card itself will be as good as any in UFC history."

And how did this happen:

Renzo Gracie, who hasn’t fought in three years since a disqualification win over Frank Shamrock in the first MMA event ever on Showtime, can in many ways claim some responsibility for the show taking place in Abu Dhabi.

Gracie was the jiu-jitsu instructor for Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who ruled the country from 1966-2004. Sheik Tahnoon grew to love the sport so much that he brought many of the world’s best submission fighters to Abu Dhabi in 1998 for the first Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Fighting Championship.

The sheikh has attended several UFC events in person, and on Jan. 11, Flash Entertainment, an arm of the Abu Dhabi government, purchased 10 percent ownership in Zuffa, the UFC’s parent company.

UFC 112 is expected to feature middleweight champ Anderson Silva against Vitor Belfort, lightweight champ B.J. Penn vs Frank Edgar and Renzo Gracie vs Matt Hughes.

Old school fans will remember the 1997 Pentagon Combat event in Brazil that featured Renzo Gracie in the headliner and was funded by his Arabian friends. That show ended in a riot that killed big time MMA events in Brazil for the next decade.

But it did indirectly lead the same Arab investors to put on the Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappling tournaments that have become the world's pre-eminent no-gi submission grappling tournament for the past ten years.

Zach Arnold is a bit skeptical about the chances of this show happening on schedule:

The UFC experiment in Abu Dhabi will be held at a place that’s currently occupied by gravel. Building an architectually-sound “arena” in about two months for an MMA show? Earthquakes can be felt in the UAE, so that could get ugly if a quake hit this new “arena.”

And an “arena” that seats about 10,000?

Fans do have a right to be skeptical in regards to whether or not this show gets postponed from it’s April date due to the massive amount of work needed to produce what is currently being planned.

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