UFC makes Abu Dhabi event official

The Ultimate Fighting Championship made official Tuesday its first foray into the Middle East when it announced that UFC 112 will be held in an open air stadium in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this month, the UFC announced it had sold a 10-percent stake in the company to the Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment.

UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta is currently in Abu Dhabi meeting with Flash officials.

The card, which will be held at the Concert Arena in Ferrari World on Yas Island, will feature two championship bouts. Anderson Silva will defend his middleweight title against Vitor Belfort and B.J. Penn will put his lightweight belt on the line against Frankie Edgar.

The UFC confirmed that veteran mixed martial artist Renzo Gracie will make his UFC debut on the card when he meets former welterweight champion Matt Hughes.

"This is one of the biggest and most significant nights in the history of the UFC," UFC president Dana White said. "UFC 112 is our first ever outdoor event and it is taking place in the hometown of our brand new partners, Flash Entertainment. We are very happy we could deliver what fans around the world will recognize as a stacked card featuring the sport's biggest stars."

Abu Dhabi has hosted one of the world's elite grappling tournaments and has a close association with MMA.

White and Fertitta were keenly interested in bringing a show to the area as part of the company's plan to widen its appeal.

"UFC 112 is going to be incredible," said John Lickrish, managing director of Flash. "Flash and the UFC have been working very hard to bring this event to fruition, and we're delighted to now announce what will truly be a great night of sport in Abu Dhabi.

"Abu Dhabi has a long tradition of mixed martial arts and hosting UFC 112 continues the country's love and passion for the sport. We really can't wait to welcome these elite athletes and showcase a truly magnificent sport to the people of the region."