UAE Warriors 12 caps off memorable month for mixed martial arts in Abu Dhabi
Hot on the heels of UFC's Fight Island, the Mubadala Arena plays host to two title bouts between Machado and Santiago, plus Chitoran against Lee
The UAE Warriors 12 event is set to cap off a spectacular month for mixed martial arts in Abu Dhabi.
The 10-fight card, that includes two title bouts, at the Mubadala Arena on Friday comes hot on the heels of UFC's Fight Island that concluded last Sunday on Yas Island.
The title fights in the UAE Warriors night are the lightweight battle between Brazilian Bruno Machado and American Mike Santiago, and the featherweight clash
Romanian Alexandru Chitoran versus Korean Lee Do-gyeom.
Machado was due to meet Danny Moore who arrived at Fight Island earlier in the month but the American tested positive for Covid-19.
Instead, the Brazilian now takes on Santiago who has flown in from the US for his first appearance in Abu Dhabi.
“My managed texted me three and-a-half weeks out whether I want to fight, and I was quick to say yes,” Santiago said at the pre-fight Zoom presser on Wednesday.
“I haven’t stopped training. I have a key to the gym and I conduct classes at the gym. This is what I like to do and I love to travel, and it’s my first time in Abu Dhabi.”
Machado is Abu Dhabi based and Santiago thinks it will be more pressure for the Brazilian than him.
“I did a research on him [Machado] and he is big in the community,” the American said.
“I have seen him on TV in my room and I was like ‘oh this guy is serious out there. But I can say to him we are going to have a new 155-pound champion from the States.”
Santiago, 33, arrives with a 22-13 win/loss record, including three UFC appearances in 2017-2018.
Machado insisted he is more motivated to take on Santiago in the fight card that will be staged behind closed doors but shown live on Abu Dhabi TV.
“I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever and we’ll see who walks away with that belt,” he said.
Lee is the defending champion of the UAE Warriors featherweight after a first round knockout win over Rolando Dy of the Philippines at the Mubadala Arena on October 2019.
“I don’t know much about my opponent and I don’t care to know about him, but I’ll put up a show for all the fans out there,” Lee said.
The Korean has a 7-2 record and meets the Romanian who has earned a shot at the title belt having won his last three fights in the UAE Warriors.
“I’m ready. I feel good. I’m excited,” Chitoran said. “I’m ready for anything that happens in the octagon. I don’t like to talk too much. That’s not my way. But the best on the night is going to win.”
Also on the card is Usman Nurmagomedov, the cousin of undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is undefeated in nine fights and takes on the Finn Jerry Kvarnstrom in the catchweight 79kg.
Flying the Emirati hopes at the event are Yousef Al Housani and Ahmed Al Darmaki.
Al Housani who made a winning debut at the Warriors 11 last month takes on Sri Lankan debutant Mohamed Arshaq Ali in the featherweight contest.
Al Darmaki (2-5 record) faces Uzbek Bogdan Kirilenko, another debutant, also in the featherweight division.
Fouad Darwish, general manager of Palms Sports who oversee the UAE Warriors, said plans are already underway for their 13th fight card on September 25 and another between November and December.
“The UAE Warriors was revived in 2019 with only one goal, which is to become a global player in the MMA community,” he said.
Updated: July 30, 2020 02:00 PM