This Saturday, the UFC will touch down in Abu Dhabi with UFC 242. While the card features several Middle Eastern fighters, there has yet to be a UFC champion from the region. UFC President Dana White believes that will change soon.
The UFC boss believes the UFC could have a Middle Eastern titleholder within the next six or seven years.
“I won’t be surprised – I said this about England, I said this about Australia, Canada and every country we have gone to – there will be a champion from the Middle East probably within the next six to seven years,” White said (via MMA Junkie).
UFC 242 marks the first of five annual trips the UFC is scheduled to take to Abu Dhabi. White seems very happy with the foothold the promotion has developed in the United Arab Emirates capital.
“We have a really close connection with Abu Dhabi because we’ve already been there a few times and the fights we’ve done there before,” he said. “The people of the UAE have been so good to the UFC. We are going to continue to come back and bring big fights to the Middle East.”
White expects the UFC’s continued stops in Abu Dhabi to supercharge the MMA industry in the area — meaning more gyms, better training, and ultimately, more world class fighting talent.
“Since we have done events in Abu Dhabi – and it happens everywhere we go, it kick-starts the market,” White said. “Gyms pop up and people are training. Talent is coming out of the area.”
Do you agree with Dana White? Is it a matter of time before the UFC crowns its first Middle Eastern champ? Who might that champ be?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/3/2019.