Featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski has arrived in a sweltering Abu Dhabi ahead of his UFC 251 title defence against Max Holloway next weekend.
Volkanovski left Sydney late last week, landing in Abu Dhabi and travelling 30 minutes to Yas Island, which has been re-named Fight Island by fight fans.
Fight Island will host four fight cards over the next three weeks, including Robert Whittaker’s comeback bout against Darren Till.
After landing, Volkanovski and his team had COVID-19 tests before going into a 48-hour quarantine.
“We’re here. We’re here now. There’s processes and protocols, but it’s all been pretty smooth,” he said in a video published by EMG Access.
“Everyone at the hotel and around here has been pretty good.”
UFC 251 was rocked over the weekend when welterweight title contender Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of his scheduled departure for Abu Dhabi.
Burns was pulled from the card, with the UFC reportedly in talks to book Jorge Masvidal to fight 175-pound champion Kamaru Usman instead.
If the UFC is able to pull off a remarkable late change, Usman-Masvidal will be the main event, otherwise Volkanovski-Holloway will headline the card.
“I’m going out there to do my thing, I’ve got a job to do,” Volkanovski said.
“Being main event, that’s pretty cool. I think we were the people’s main event anyway, so we’re in our rightful place.
“I feel for Burns. But it’s a big opportunity for me, so I’ll take it and go and do my thing.”
While Volkanovski has worked through his own issues during the COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia, Holloway has reportedly been unable to do any sparring and has barely seen his coaches.
“I guarantee he’s been training, I guarantee he’s prepared,” Volkanovski said.
“I’m ready to prove everyone wrong, and I’m ready to prove I’m the best featherweight in the world.
“I’m gonna take him out.”
While the UFC will take over Yas Island for the next few weeks at least, the area is more regularly the home to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Since 2009, Yas Marina Circuit has hosted the event, with the Australian-based Supercars even staging a race there in 2010.