x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

UFC show to be held for troops

White revealed he is in negotiations to organise a one-off fight night for American troops serving in the war-torn country of Afghanistan.

ABU DHABI // Afghanistan will stage the Middle East's second Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event, Dana White, the mixed martial arts league's president, confirmed yesterday. On the eve of Abu Dhabi's inaugural UFC show tomorrow, which will be held at a 12,000-seater venue on Yas Island, White revealed he is in negotiations to organise a one-off fight night for American troops serving in the war-torn country.

"We will be in Afghanistan in about two to three months. We're working on doing it and we will do it, no matter what," he said. White acknowledged the safety concerns and logistical problems involved in ferrying the organisation's 350-strong entourage into a conflict zone. "There are tonnes of safety concerns," he said. "We'd have to do it at a certain time, and that's being planned right now.

"We would need all the helicopters available for us to do this thing. We'd be flying everyone in together and it's going to be crazy and scary." The UFC's patriotic American pay-per-view audience is one of its largest revenue generators so ensuring the sport's substantial fanbase can tune in will be essential. "The question is how we broadcast it and whether we can pull it off on television," White said.

"If you would have told me three years ago that we'd be putting a fight on in the Middle East before New York, I'd have said no way. But I kept saying it's going to happen. "We support the troops big time and all the fights we do for them are non-profit. "Last year we put on a fight to support guys coming back with traumatic brain injuries and we raised US$6million (Dh22m). "We've always had a great relationship with the military." @Email:emegson@thenational.ae