PRESS RELEASE – The world’s greatest indoor sporting event goes outdoors on April 10 as the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization lands in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the first time.
Some of the world’s greatest mixed martial artists will appear on the historic open-air UFC 112 event at the Concert Arena, Ferrari World, Yas Island.
Topped by a double main event, two UFC world titles will be on the line at UFC 112. First, UFC lightweight champion BJ ‘The Prodigy’ Penn puts his belt on the line against No.1 contender Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar and then UFC middleweight king Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva defends his crown against fellow Brazilian striker Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort.
As well as two fascinating UFC title clashes, the UFC’s first venture into the region will also showcase an intriguing battle of legends as UFC icon Matt Hughes locks horns with MMA pioneer and Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Renzo Gracie at welterweight.
UFC President Dana White said: “This is one of the biggest and most significant nights in the history of the UFC. UFC 112 is our first ever outdoor event and it is taking place in the hometown of our brand new partners, Flash Entertainment. We are very happy we could deliver what fans around the world will recognise as a stacked card featuring the sport’s biggest stars.”
“Anderson Silva is back in the Octagon(TM), and back at 185lbs to defend his belt against maybe the one guy he may want to take the fight to the ground with. Vitor Belfort has recaptured the form which saw him rip through heavyweights and light heavyweights a decade ago, and Silva vs Belfort is one of those fights where, if there was a roof for this event, it would come off just before the start of the first round.”
“BJ Penn is another UFC champion who is looking unstoppable right now, but Frankie Edgar is improving so quickly and has such an attacking style that he may be the guy to end BJ’s reign.
“Plus, Matt Hughes vs Renzo Gracie is a clash between two legends who each have a lot on the line in this fight. The winner adds another great name to his list of victims and gets right into the title hunt.”
John Lickrish, Managing Director of Flash Entertainment, said: “UFC 112 is going to be incredible. Flash and the UFC have been working very hard to bring this event to fruition, and we’re delighted to now announce what will truly be a great night of sport in Abu Dhabi.
“Abu Dhabi has a long tradition of mixed martial arts, and hosting UFC 112 continues the country’s love and passion for the sport. We really can’t wait to welcome these elite athletes, and showcase a truly magnificent sport to the people of the region.”
As far as elite athletes go, very few hit harder or can boast dominance like Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva (25-4). Considered by many to be the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world today, Silva is the reigning UFC middleweight champion and is currently unbeaten in a record shattering 10-bout UFC win streak.
Listed among his most notable victims are the names of Chris Leben, Rich Franklin (twice), Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson and Forrest Griffin. Such is the striking quality of Curitiba’s Silva, only one man has managed to last the distance with ‘The Spider’ during his Octagon stint.
Enjoying a reign of terror on top of the middleweight division as well as showcasing his skills in breathtaking cameos at light-heavyweight, Silva now puts his belt on the line against one of the most dangerous strikers in the game.
Nicknamed ‘The Phenom’, Vitor Belfort, (19-8), is a natural talent, and one that has been knocking out opponents since his teenage years in the UFC. Having appeared at UFC 12 in 1997, this former light heavyweight champion now looks to become only the third man to win titles in two divisions by annexing the UFC middleweight title.
The Rio De Janeiro-native is renowned for his devastating, lightning-fast punch combinations. In a career spanning over 13 years, Belfort has dazzled in victories over Wanderlei Silva, Gilbert Yvel, Heath Herring, Randy Couture and, most recently, Rich Franklin.
Returning to the UFC after a four-year absence, Belfort made up for lost time with a stunning first-round knockout of Franklin last September to earn his title shot.
Current lightweight king BJ ‘The Prodigy’ Penn, 15-5-1, is a man who cuts a fearsome figure for any opponent. Now settled in the 155lbs lightweight division, Penn’s current form is ominous for a division chock-full of young and hungry contenders.
The 31-year-old Penn has already established himself as a UFC fan favourite and future Hall-of-Famer, having won UFC titles as both a lightweight and welterweight. He became only the second fighter in history to hold UFC belts in separate weight divisions.
En route to this amazing feat, Penn beat a variety of standout mixed martial artists, including Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver and Renzo Gracie. Since focusing his sights on the 155lbs division, Penn has added the scalps of top contenders Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez to his resume.
One man who hopes to have ‘The Answer’ to Penn’s recent air of invincibility is New Jersey challenger Frankie Edgar, 11-1. Considered one of the most exciting fighters in the game today, Edgar has won six UFC bouts so far in his career and appears to get better and better with each outing.
The 28-year-old number one-ranked contender started out his UFC career with an eye-catching decision win over Tyson Griffin in February 2007. As well as picking up his first UFC win, Edgar also walked away with a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus that night.
Fight of the Night bonuses and Frankie Edgar became synonymous over the next two years as the talented American pitched more exciting brawls and victories over Hermes Franca and, most recently, Matt Veach. In climbing the lightweight ladder, Edgar also grabbed big wins over Spencer Fisher and Mark Bocek.
It was Edgar’s May 2009 victory over Sean Sherk that really caught the imagination of fight fans and displayed the extent of ‘The Answer’s improvements. Boxing cleverly on the back foot and countering whenever he got the chance, Edgar put on a striking clinic to diffuse the former UFC champion and set up his tilt at Penn’s belt.
Icons Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie will battle for personal pride and family tradition in their UFC 112 welterweight clash.
Respected all around the world, Hughes is a former two-time UFC welterweight champion and one of the greatest fighters to ever compete inside the Octagon. In a career stretching 12 years, Hughes has etched his name in the history books, having been involved in some of the most exciting and inspiring Octagon battles of the modern era.
Born in Hillsboro, Illinois, Hughes, 44-7, first appeared in the Octagon at UFC 22 in September 1999. He went on to lift the UFC Welterweight Title on two separate occasions, defeating a who’s who of the best 170lbs fighters, including BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, Georges St-Pierre and, in his last UFC outing, bitter rival Matt Serra.
The first obstacle in Hughes’ quest for a third world title – and no stranger to the UFC’s finest ever welterweight – is Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Renzo Gracie, cousin of the legendary Royce. A pioneer of the sport Renzo, 13-6-1, 1 NC, will finally take his UFC bow in Abu Dhabi, much to the delight of his legion of MMA fans throughout the world.
Famed for his world-class grappling ability and iconic family heritage, Renzo enters the UFC with the opportunity to avenge his cousin’s 2006 defeat to Hughes. With career wins over former UFC champions Pat Miletich, Carlos Newton, Frank Shamrock, and Maurice Smith, Renzo enters the UFC with his eyes firmly set on securing a title shot. In order to get there, Renzo must first restore family pride against Hughes at UFC 112.
Flash Entertainment, which has been behind some of Abu Dhabi’s biggest concerts and entertainment projects, will also confirm ticket details and further event information in the coming weeks.