As the Middle East’s most powerful countries jockey for prominence on a world stage, who knew combat sports would be a chief beneficiary?
Earlier this year, the UFC launched a five-year partnership with Abu Dhabi, which is set to host one annual pay-per-view event each year of the deal, with a title fight guaranteed to be on the bill each time. A new venue was built for the occasion, a massive semi-permanent structure built on Yas Island and known as The Arena.
The venue provided an electric atmosphere for UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s third-round submission over Dustin Poirier, though promotion officials announced they were already in talks with their partners in Abu Dhabii regarding a bigger structure for the company when it returns in 2020.
Enter Saudi Arabia.
The oil-rich nation boasts the largest economy in the Middle East and has recently begun investing in bringing top sporting events to its soil, hence why current World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz is traveling to Saudi Arabia to rematch the man he beat to take the belts, former world champ and Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua.
Known as “Clash on the Dunes,” the card streams live on DAZN.
Hosting the event? “The custom-built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena,” according to the company promoting the event, Matchroom Boxing.
Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing, said: “The arena and site are utterly breath-taking, with a theme park and concert the night before as well. It’s like nothing we’ve seen before in boxing. The Clash On The Dunes will be a night to remember. We can’t wait.”
The Diriyah Arena has been constructed by 175 staff working tirelessly to transform the 10,000 sq m site, which includes 295 tonnes of steel, which would stretch 57km. Work began on October 7, just two months out, with 3,000 sqm of scaffolding needed to complete the work.
On the night more than 2,000 staff will ensure proceedings run smoothly in the arena, 95 percent of which is reusable, and which will take a month to take down.
Your move, Abu Dhabi. See you next year.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Uh, oh, Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia's new combat sports venue is looking pretty good