Abu Dhabi, UAE – October 22, 2020: Abu Dhabi continued to cement its position as the perfect place for global sporting stars to showcase their skills as UFC FIGHT NIGHT: ORTEGA VS THE KOREAN ZOMBIE saw fighters from 11 countries take to the Octagon.
The fourth outing of the mega five-event Return to Fight Island series currently taking place on Yas Island hosted fighters from Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America, and included another first with Mark Spiegl, becoming the first-ever Filipino to compete in UFC® in a defeat to Russia Said Nurmagomedov. Following the fight night, Return to Fight Island has now produced winners from 18 countries over 47 fights. More than 30 countries spanning six continents have also been represented in the landmark series.
The global appeal amongst fighters to showcase their skills on Fight Island has been especially evident with multiple victors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, Poland, Russia, UK and the US There have also been Return to Fight Island wins for fighters from Australia, France, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain and Thailand. The geographical reach of the winning fighters reinforces the goal of UFC Fight Island to provide a platform for fighters from around the world to compete in a safe and secure environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“UFC Fight Island as a concept has exceeded all expectations. Return to Fight Island has truly brought the world of UFC together with fighters from more than 30 countries competing in this unique setting here in Abu Dhabi. So far, we have seen winners from more than half of the countries represented – a clear sign of the growing global strength of UFC and the appetite of fighters to demonstrate their skills in the emirate,” said H.E Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director, Tourism and Marketing at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
On Sunday morning Fares Ziam became the first winner fighter from France to claim victory at Return to Fight Island, beating Australian Jamie Mullarkey by a unanimous decision in their lightweight clash.
“I’m very happy to get this victory. Abu Dhabi has been really good for me. Fight Island is amazing, I want to fight here more. I’ve worked so hard for this, now I’m stronger and better,” said Ziam.
In the next fight on the card Jun Yong Park landed a first Korean victory of the series beating John Phillips from the UK by a unanimous decision in their middleweight bout, breaking a UFC record for the number of ground strikes in the process.
“I feel so good, I want to fly. I am grateful for UFC and Fight Island for this opportunity. My wrestling is good, my cardio is good, I’m ready to fight again,” said Park after his impressive victory.
In the main event, American Brian Ortega made his first appearance in the Octagon for almost two years and delivered a dominant display to beat The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung.
“It was fun to come back and shake off the nerves. When I was told about Fight Island, I was like ‘let’s go’. It’s like Mortal Kombat, I was here to work. I would love to stay and explore the island a bit more,” said Ortega after his win.
Meanwhile, during the Return to Fight Island opening UFC 253 event, Jan Blachowicz became the first male UFC fighter from Poland to win a championship title when he beat Dominick Reyes in their light heavyweight championship match.
“I made history in Abu Dhabi. Winning sounds great but it feels even better. I really can’t express it in words, but to win this title is a dream. I will remember this city because of my victory. Thank you, Abu Dhabi,” said Blachowicz.
Return to Fight Island’s highly anticipated finale, UFC 254: NURMAGOMEDOV VS GAETHJE, takes place on October 24th, when crowd favourite Khabib Nurmagomedov will put his unbeaten record and lightweight title on the line against American fighter Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje.
About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
The Department of Culture and Tourism conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction, which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The organisation manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Louvre Abu Dhabi. DCT Abu Dhabi also supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.
UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, with more than 318 million fans and 102 million social media followers. The organization produces more than 40 live events annually in some of the most prestigious arenas around the world, while broadcasting to nearly one billion TV households across more than 175 countries. UFC’s athlete roster features the world’s best MMA athletes, representing more than 65 countries. The organization’s digital offerings include UFC FIGHT PASS®, the world’s leading streaming service for combat sports. UFC was acquired in 2016 by global entertainment, sports and content company Endeavor and strategic investors Silver Lake Partners and KKR. UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit UFC.com and follow UFC at Facebook.com/UFC, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram: @UFC.