January 15, 2010
The news of Abu Dhabi and its UFC purchase has come fast and furious. The UAE government now owns 10 percent of the fight promotion and an Apr. 10 event has been rumored for months. It makes sense and there seems to be plenty of money in Abu Dhabi to draw a nice crowd. One problem, where are they going to watch these fights? That seems to be a huge unanswered question.
Dana White told AOL FanHouse that Abu Dhabi was building an arena. Really? The rumored event, that already includes B.J. Penn-Frank Edgar and Renzo Gracie-Matt Hughes, is less than 12 weeks away and they're "building" an arena? That would have to set a record for the fastest arena construction in world history. Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole told ESPNRadio1100 in Las Vegas that the Apr. 10 date for an Abu Dhabi card is still very much up in the air.
One source with the UFC suggested that the arena notion is puzzling and the only other possibility is holding the fights outside. That could be an interesting proposition with the average April temperature in Abu Dhabi sitting at a steamy 102 degrees. Yahoo! Sports' Dave Meltzer has the backup plan if the card falls through:
The front-runner location for this card is Abu Dhabi, but backup locations including Dublin and Manchester and Newcastle, England, are in discussion if the Abu Dhabi deal isn’t finalized.
A U.K. source said Dublin may be the only real possibility. The 02 Dublin Arena served as a great venue for UFC 93.
Iole also mentioned Las Vegas as a backup for UFC 112 but that could be complicated by the fact that Strikeforce is also looking at Sin City on Apr. 10 or 17 at the Thomas & Mack Arena for its CBS card. He said Strikeforce needs to hustle and get in its promoter license with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, a process that takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks.
Iole estimated that the Flash Entertainment/UFC deal was in the $125 million range. He also stated that UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta said none of the money can or will be diverted to his struggling gaming company Station Casinos.
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