To call the concept and execution of the UFC's Fight Island ambitious is a terrible understatement.
In just 15 days the mixed martial arts' authority has pulled off not one, not two, but will complete four events from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi while the world is under lockdown amid a pandemic. Despite having to halt arena-sized events, the UFC pivoted to create a new platform that accommodates the international scope of the sport with the grandiose production befitting the premier entity of mixed martial arts.
The finale of the month's festivities is a stacked card that features some of the most respected names in the game. Among the standout bouts for the Fight Night finale include a light-heavyweight showdown between the legendary Fabricio Werdum and Alexander Gustafsson. Werdum is looking to bounce back from his strong showing, but eventual loss at UFC 249 to Alexsei Oleinik while Gustafsson is looking to get back in the conversation of title contender within the division.
The trilogy between Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was originally planned for a UFC 250 event in Brazil but with the pandemic, never materialized - that is until Fight Island. Largely considered a legacy bout, the history between the two Brazilian pioneers dates back to 2005, when the pair first fought under the PRIDE banner in Japan. The two would meet again in UFC 190 with "Shogun" Rua scoring the decision. Though both fighters are at the end of hugely accomplished careers, the rivalry runs as deep as the mutual respect. Expect a spirited scrap.
Anchoring the card, Robert 'The Reaper" Whittaker is deadset on reasserting himself into title contention following his lose to Isreal Adesanya. Regarded as one of the best in the sport, Whittaker was on a 9-fight win streak prior to his loss to the Style Bender. Standing in his way however is always game Darren Till. Moving up from welterweight to middleweight, Till's only losses have come at the hands of Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal. Till finished out 2019 with a win over Kelvin Gastelum to mark his arrival in the division and is looking to derail The Reaper's title plans.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT ON ESPN®: WHITTAKER vs. TILL will take place Saturday, July 25 at Flash Forum on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. The full event will be simulcast airing live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ (English and Spanish) with the prelims starting at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT and the main card at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT
Watch the creation of Fight Island in Abu Dhabi below.