For the first time since the UFC temporarily halted its schedule last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion will hold shows in front of a limited number of paying fans.
As ESPN's Brett Okamoto explained on Friday, an undefined number of spectators will be permitted to attend the UFC events held at the "Fight Island" site on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 16, Jan. 20 and Jan. 23.
The final show will be headlined by former two-division champion Conor McGregor facing Dustin Poirier at the UFC 257 pay-per-view.
"I'm pumped to start the year with a straight week of great fights — Saturday, Wednesday and Sunday — for fight fans all over the world with FIGHT ISLAND Triple Header," UFC boss Dana White said in a prepared statement shared by Okamoto. "Following two highly-successful editions of UFC Fight Island and the recent Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to host major international events in a safe and secure environment this year."
The UFC resumed events last May and held cards in Florida, at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and in Abu Dhabi without fans throughout the year. Coronavirus issues, such as positive tests, forced White to change multiple cards, but he and the UFC nevertheless received high praise for maintaining an active schedule through the night of Dec. 19.