While some fans had expected something more like Gilligan’s Island, the UFC confirmed Tuesday that its much-ballyhooed Fight Island is Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.
Yas Island, which occupies 25 square kilometres, is a tourist attraction that has hosted Formula One’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. It is located 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The UFC has been touting Fight Island for weeks as a place to bring its international fighters who face travel restrictions getting to the U.S. because of the pandemic.
UFC plans four events on Yas Island: UFC 251 featuring three title fights on July 11 followed by three televised events on July 15, 18 and 25.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN, the UFC’s broadcast partner, that the UFC 251 main event will pit featherweight champion Alexander (The Great) Volkanovski against former title-holder Max (Blessed) Holloway.
Other fights on the pay-per-view card will see Kamaru (The Nigerian Nightmare) Usman defend his welterweight title against Gilbert (Durinho) Burns, Petr Yan face Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title, Rose (Thug) Namajunas against Jessica Andrade and Paige (12 Gauge) VanZant against Amanda Ribas.
The UFC says there will be a “safety zone” within the island — featuring an arena, hotel, training facilities and restaurants — that will be restricted to UFC athletes and coaches, UFC staff and other event personnel, and essential Yas Island employees.
“We came up with the idea of having fights on ‘Fight Island’ because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic,” White said in a statement.
“Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past 10 years and it is the perfect place for these events. The infrastructure we are building will be such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters that’s never been done before — from the arena, the private training facility, and the Octagon on the island.
“It’s going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget. I can’t wait to deliver amazing fights from Yas island.”
The Abu Dhabi shows will be the UFC’s first international events since March 14, when it staged a card in an empty arena in Brazil. It has since staged three shows without fans in Jacksonville, Fla., and two at its production facility in Las Vegas. It plans three more shows in Las Vegas this month.
While the UFC had been close-mouthed about the Fight Island location prior to Tuesday, featherweight Herbert (The Blaze) Burns — Gilbert’s younger brother — gave the game away after his win over Evan Dunham on Saturday in Las Vegas, saying it was in Abu Dhabi.
The UFC and Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism signed a five-year agreement in 2019 to bring fight cards to the United Arab Emirates. The first show under the deal was UFC 242 last September which saw lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defeat interim title-holder Dustin (The Diamond) Poirier.
Abu Dhabi also hosted UFC 112 in 2010, the UFC’s first outdoor event and first in the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirates. The Lonely Planet travel guide says Yas Island “has blossomed into the capital’s adrenalin hub” with attractions such as Ferrari World, Warner Bros World and Waterworld as well as Yas Mall.
Trump criticizes Redskins, Indians sports teams for considering name changes – Global News
President Donald Trump on Monday criticizing a pair of sports teams that are considering name changes in the wake of a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.
Trump tweeted, “They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”
Trump, in his tweet, also mentioned Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying, “Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” Trump has repeatedly mocked Warren, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, for claiming Native American heritage, derisively calling her “Pocahontas.”
The NFL’s Redskins announced Friday that they had begun a “thorough review” of their name, which has been deemed offensive by Native American groups for decades. The Redskins’ decision came after FedEx, which paid $205 million for naming rights to the team’s stadium, and other corporate partners called for the team to change its nickname.
Hours later, the Indians Major League Baseball team announced that they, too, will review their long-debated name.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said in a statement.
Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name
Trump has spent the last few days stoking divisions and exploiting racial tensions, accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
Earlier Monday, he lashed out at NASCAR and wrongly accused the sport’s only full-time Black driver of perpetrating “a hoax” when a crew member found a noose in the team garage stall.
Trump had tweeted in 2013 that then-President Barack Obama “should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name” because “our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them, not nonsense.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Dallas will not compete in MLS tournament after 10 positive COVID-19 tests – TSN
FC Dallas has withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament after 10 players and one member of the club’s technical staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Major League Soccer said each of the positive tests occurred upon the club’s arrival in Florida or within a few days after.
“Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
“The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.”
The tournament, now down to 25 teams, starts Wednesday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in the Orlando area.
The league said of the 557 players currently in Orlando, 13 have been confirmed positive for COVID-19. Aside from the 10 from Dallas, two from Nashville and one from Columbus also tested positive.
Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps left Monday for the World Cup-style tournament. The Montreal Impact arrived last Thursday.
The Whitecaps were originally slated to open against Dallas on Thursday. But the game was pushed back after six members of the Dallas contingent tested positive in Florida and Vancouver had to delay its scheduled departure last Wednesday due to a pair of inconclusive test results. That prompted more testing in Vancouver, which subsequently came back negative.
The Whitecaps will now open July 15 against San Jose.
Toronto was scheduled to take off last Friday but pushed its departure to Saturday, citing the need for more time to complete pre-travel coronavirus testing. The club had to postpone again after a member of its travelling party reported “experiencing symptoms,” requiring another round of testing.
The Colorado Rapids, originally due to leave Sunday, delayed their departure to Tuesday after a pair of “presumptive positive” COVID-19 results in its travelling party.
The tournament wraps up Aug. 11.
The Impact play the New England Revolution on Thursday. Toronto is slated to open Friday against D.C. United.
MLS has been on hiatus since March 12 when the global pandemic halted play two weeks into the season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.
NHL season likely to proceed despite positive COVID-19 tests – News1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — NHL players have only been back on the ice for a couple of weeks and already there are nearly three dozen positive COVID-19 cases in their small bubbles. But with training camps set to start in a week, the league is unlikely to cancel the 2020 season, according to Scott Rintoul, host with Sportsnet 650.
“The percentage testing positive is very much in line with what we were seeing before, around five and a half per cent — lower than a lot of the other sports, some of which have tried to get up and running, again,” Rintoul said.
“The good news for the NHL is they still have time. They can still tweak their protocols, if necessary.”
The key, he added, is to safely get players to the hub cities, expected to the Edmonton and Toronto, and to keep them in their bubbles.
Alberta’s chief medical health officer said it is possible for Edmonton to safely be a hub city. But Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province has set out firm COVID-19 guidelines for the league that would have to be followed, otherwise the province would step in.
“If guidance is not being followed, if it’s being disregarded, and if the public’s health is being put at risk, then we would follow the same steps that we would take with any other organizer, in terms of that same kind of ladder of follow-up with conversations, education, and, if needed, measures to ensure that compliance was in place,” Hinshaw said.
The league and players association announced penalties Monday for team officials who leave the bubbles, including dismissal, fines and loss of draft picks.
Initially, families won’t join players in the hub cities, and the league is reportedly offering to assist the families with errands, such as groceries.
NHL games are to resume in early August, with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Sunday the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed on protocols to resume the season. That includes daily testing once games get underway for players, coaches, and staff.
However, Daly said the sides are still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement extension. A CBA extension is still crucial to the process, and the league’s board of governors, the players’ executive committee, and full membership must approve that and the return-to-play protocols to bring hockey back this summer.
If ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown for 31 teams across North America that began in mid-March.
The NHL says 35 players in total have tested positive for the novel coronavirus over roughly the past month.
The league says 23 of 396 players checked for COVID-19 at team facilities have tested positive since voluntary workouts began June 8, a five-per-cent rate.
In that same period of time, it is aware of 12 additional positive test results.
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