UFC 112 Abu Dhabi: The UFC Finally Gets the Royal Treatment

Sam NassarCorrespondent IApril 4, 2010


The United Arab Emirates is not usually a geographic location that we normally associate with mixed martial arts.

However, several moves have been made in the past and the present that will dramatically affect MMA and most importantly the UFC.   

The selection to go to Abu Dhabi was not a random decision by any means.

Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Prince of Abu Dhabi has been an avid fan of submission grappling, Ju-Jitsu, and MMA for years.

The Sheikh was specifically intrigued by the early UFC tournaments that were dominated by Royce Gracie.

The fact that a smaller, less assuming man could simply toy with boxers, wrestlers and tough men had Tahnoon searching for answers. 

Sheikh Tahnoon ventured to the US to attain his college education, but was also attempting to train with the best teachers of the ground game that impressed him. 

He trained under a normal name so he would not attract any extra attention. Years later, Sheikh Tahnoon vowed to himself that he would bring the grappling arts back to the United Arab Emirates.

After training in several styles such as BJJ, wrestling, judo and sambo the Sheikh launched the creation of the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club), which was a world grappling tournament which attracted the best talent the world had to offer. 

The creation of this tournament was definitely a labor of love and it is still being held today, with many MMA competitors competing every year.

After creating a prestigious tournament, attaining his black belt from legendary Renzo Gracie, and training with the best of the best the Sheikh still hungered for more. 

The next logical stage to tackle was MMA.

Recently Sheikh Tahnoon, with the help of his Ju-Jitsu instructor Renzo Gracie, went about the proper channels to contact Dana White and others to meet in Abu Dhabi. 

After Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White were impressed with the Sheikhs ideas they both agreed to let the Sheiks Flash Entertainment Group to purchase 10 percent of the UFC.

This exciting merger can mean more financial security and backing for the UFC, as well as an expansive move into new sections of the world foreign to MMA events.

Sheikh Tahnoon’s passion for the sport and his efforts should be commended.

For royalty to extend a hand of help to combat sports is nothing short of miraculous.