UFC boss Dana White believes Abu Dhabi will be first to welcome fans back but McGregor v Poirier still set for Las Vegas

DANA WHITE believes Abu Dhabi will be the first to welcome back fans – but Conor McGregor's UFC return is still set for Las Vegas.

Promoter White has continued to stage events behind closed doors during the coronavirus pandemic, both Stateside and abroad.

Due to travel restrictions into the US, the UFC built Fight Island in Yas Island to accommodate international fighters unable to get into America.

White is in the Middle East for the second time during the crisis, and thinks when return next year, so will live crowds.

He told The National: “I think our next stint on Fight Island will probably be with fans.

"I believe that Abu Dhabi will be the first place that opens up to fans again, because they have this thing so dialed in over here.

"This is one of those destinations, and especially with Fight Island, that people will want to come and see.

"When we do our first fight here [with fans] it’s going to be massive.”

Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, 32, tops UFC 254 in two weeks time, the third pay-per-view on Fight Island.

Already Jorge Masvidal, 35, Kamaru Usman, 33 and Israel Adesanya, 31, have fought in the newly built Flash Forum on Yas Island.

But McGregor, 32, looks set to make his UFC return in Vegas, with the UFC offering him a rematch against Poirier, 31.

White said: “Listen, I don’t know about January. Probably in Vegas, but anything is possible. Who knows?

"Let’s see what the world looks like in January. Maybe fans are back in January, and Conor and Dustin is in a sold-out arena somewhere.”

McGregor – who beat Poirier at featherweight in 2014 – insisted his return must be squeezed in before the end of 2020.

But it is a demand White will not be dealing with.

He explained: “We offered them both a fight, Dustin accepted the fight; we’re waiting on Conor.

"We actually made a date for him, a date that we didn’t have. We created another date in January for Dustin versus Conor.

"So we’re just waiting to hear back from Conor and get this done.

“My poor lawyer’s dealing with all that. Not me. I’m over here enjoying myself.”

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