UFC President Dana White is adamant there will be a Middle East champion in the organisation over the next six-seven years.
Speaking ahead of UFC 242 which takes place in Abu Dhabi this weekend, White pointed to other territories and the success that has been seen in a relatively short space of time.
Michael Bisping, Robert Whittaker, and Zhang Weili are examples of English, Australian and Chinese fighters who have gone on to lift gold following growth of the organisation in their countries – and with a five-year deal penned for events in Abu Dhabu, White thinks the same can happen in the Middle East.
“Since we have done events in Abu Dhabi, and it happens everywhere we go, it kick-starts the market, gyms pop up and people are training. Talent is coming out of the area,” said White.
“I won’t be surprised – I said this about England, I said this about Australia, Canada and every country we have gone to – there will be a champion from the Middle East probably within the next six to seven years.”
The much anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier will headline this week’s event, which is part of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week – and White promises the blockbuster fights will keep on coming.
“We have a really close connection with Abu Dhabi because we’ve already been there a few times, and the fights we’ve done there before,” said White. “The people of the UAE have been so good to the UFC. We are going to continue to come back and bring big fights to the Middle East.”
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