President of the UFC Dana White was undoubtedly the king of sports in 2020. Fresh off that momentum, White has expanded the horizons of the sport once again with news of a potential UFC event taking place in Africa by 2022.
Dana White told The Bill Simmons Podcast that the event could go down as soon as next year, and he added some details about what inspired the idea. “One of the many monumental times in my career, but one of the things that I’ve always wanted to do is have a fight in Africa. The Ali-Foreman ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ all that stuff I remember growing up. I haven’t had mine yet, but it’s coming. We’re looking Africa in 2022, so I’m really looking forward to that.”
As sports leagues began to shut down worldwide due to newly introduced COVID guidelines, Dana White chose to keep his fighters employed and paid last year. After a rigorous process, he set up an isolated arena where participants could still compete. During the lull in entertainment as theaters, stadiums, and all venues closed, White introduced UFC fans and new viewers to “Fight Island,” a series of bouts broadcasted live from Abu Dhabi.
In an interview with TSN, White recapped the COVID year and shared the difficult road to pulling off an isolated tournament in the face of pushback: “For us personally, it’s the best year we’ve ever had. Crazy to say that, but we broke just about every record we have, except for live gate, obviously … It was a very challenging year for us, to pull all this stuff off. It was without a doubt the hardest year of my career.”
UFC 251 from Fight Island totaled $77.9 million in broadcast revenues and garnered a total of 1.3 million viewers. UFC’s appeal skyrocketed during the entertainment lull of last year, and now with the news of an event in Africa, White’s plans to broaden the UFC’s appeal haven’t slowed down.