Explore the possible locations of UFC President Dana White’s Fight Island and its fictional and real-life influences. From Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon to Bodog’s forgotten island fight night.
The journey to Fight Island has been one of the most surprising twists in MMA as the UFC continues to navigate the rocky waters of COVID-19. SBN MMA explores the past, present and future of Fight Island in the new video, Where Is Fight Island? | From Bruce Lee to UFC.
One of the best examples of a ‘fight island’ comes from Enter the Dragon. In the film, Lee journeys to a private island owned by Han—a former Shaolin monk turned renegade opium kingpin, who hosts an international martial arts tournament at his compound every three years.
In 2006, the United States passed a law banning online gambling and slapped Bodog gambling magnate Calvin Ayre with federal felony charges for continuing to operate. Unable to enter the U.S. without getting arrested, Ayre staged a number of MMA events on the island of Costa Rica. A crop of rising stars took part including Jorge Masvidal, Eddie Alvarez, and Chael Sonnen.
White is keeping the location of Fight Island very close to his chest. Some outlets assume it will be in the Carribean, but others think it may also be off the northern coastline of the United Arab Emirates. The government of UAE owned a 10 percent stake in the UFC between 2010 and 2018, and maintain a good relationship with the UFC. Not even an offer of $100 million from Saudi Arabia to host a rematch between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor could convince the UFC to switch regional partners. The UFC has held three events in the country’s capital of Abu Dhabi, most recently UFC 242 in September of 2019. That event took place on Yaz Island.
Yaz Island is home to Ferrari World and the country’s largest waterpark and mall. It may be too busy for a locked down fight location, but there are other island possibilities in the region. Tourist islands like Nurai and Reem maybe viable, as well as more isolated islands like Delma.
UFC’s parent company Endeavor represents some of the biggest entertainment talent in the world. Leonardo DiCaprio owns a 104 acre island off the coast of Belize, and UFC fan Mel Gibson owns a volcanic island in Fiji. Johnny Depp’s island in the Bahamas has beaches named after Hunter S. Thompson and Marlon Brando, so why not the UFC?
In the meantime, UFC is pressing forward with UFC 249: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje at a to-be-determined location in Florida, reportedly.