ABU DHABI will host the UFC’s Fight Island – allowing their greatest stars to return to action.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dana White was forced to stage events using only his talent based in the US, with travel widely restricted.
But in an attempt to privately fly fighters in to compete, the UFC acquired a venue in Yas Island meaning international stars are free to fight once again.
White already revealed he will look to debut Fight Island on July 11 – with three other events to follow.
And with plenty of space to fill on the cards, SunSport takes a look at five fights that could headline in Abu Dhabi.
KAMARU USMAN vs GILBERT BURNS
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the UFC had planned to have Usman defend his belt against Jorge Masvidal on International Fight week in July.
Since then the pair have failed to agree terms, with Masvidal later outing the UFC for underpaying fighters, after revealing he was offered half the amount he was paid before he fought Nate Diaz in November.
White confirmed Usman will headline UFC 251 – the first event on Fight Island – against his team-mate Burns.
Burns, the No1 contender, is on a six fight win streak and beat Tyron Woodley in his last fight just weeks ago.
Also on the card Jose Aldo will face Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight title while Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight crown in an immediate rematch against Max Holloway.
STIPE MIOCIC vs DANIEL CORMIER
After months of negotiations, heavyweight champion Miocic and Cormier have agreed terms for a trilogy bout – with the pair tied at one apiece.
The rubber match is set for UFC 252 in August, a date not yet confirmed for Fight Island.
But if the UFC plan to take the pay-per-view show abroad, the heavyweight headliner will follow.
Speaking on where the fight will take place, Cormier told ESPN: “I’d like to fight on Fight Island but I don’t know if that will happen.
“Anywhere, I just want to fight. It really doesn’t matter to me.”
CONOR McGREGOR vs NATE DIAZ
McGregor’s third retirement in four years was born from frustration at the UFC not being able to provide him an opponent with the Irishman ready to fight.
The 31-year-old was furious when he was denied the chance to fight interim champ Justin Gaethje, with Khabib Nurmagomedov set to face the American in a lightweight unification in September.
It further backdates McGregor’s title shot, but the southpaw could instead return on Fight Island and finally settle the score in a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz, as they are equal with a win each.
And according to Cormier, it’s the fight to make, as he said: “If Khabib’s fighting Gaethje in September. Conor fights in July vs ‘Big Nate’, ‘Nasty Nate’, the third fight.
“This is the one. It’s the only one that makes sense on Fight Island.”
ISRAEL ADESANYA vs PAULO COSTA
Middleweight champion Adesanya was signed to face Costa until an injury forced the challenger out the fight.
But Adesanya is desperate to feature on Fight Island and defend his belt against Costa.
He told Stuff: “It’s perfect, it sounds far-fetched, like a movie script but it’s actually going to happen.
“I want Costa next. He’s the right guy I think.
“They’ve taken every precaution to make sure that no one gets caught with a bug or the virus so good on the company for doing that and being the first major league back in action.”