Saudi advisor Turki Alalshikh is fervently anticipating the presence of none other than Irish powerhouse Conor McGregor at Riyadh’s highly anticipated UFC debut this summer.
Turki Alalshikh is the visionary behind Saudi Arabia’s foray into boxing. He demonstrated his commitment by investing a staggering $20 million. This substantial financial backing was contingent on the UFC presenting a premium card in the Middle East.
Initial reports hinted at dissatisfaction within the Saudi leadership regarding Dana White and his team’s proposed fight card on March 2. Consequently, the event has been rescheduled to June. This will give the UFC additional time to craft a more impactful and enticing lineup.
Amidst the rescheduling, the burning question remains: How high are the Saudis aiming for their first UFC event.
In an interview with DAZN, Alalshikh shared insights into their aspirations. He stated: “We are ready to have a fight with him. We try maybe, and we will announce it. We will do something big and I asked the UFC if there is a chance to have McGregor on this card or in the future.”
Addressing speculations, Dana White vehemently denied rumors about an underwhelming card. He talked about the UFC’s commitment to delivering a spectacular event in Riyadh in an interview with Aaron Bronsteter.
“We moved the card, and I know there’s been a lot of talk about the card wasn’t good enough. We never even proposed a card to them. We didn’t tell Saudi Arabia about one fight. So, that’s all bullsh*t.”
“We never even proposed a card to them. What we wanted to do is, every time the UFC puts on an event, we want to blow the doors off the place. We want people to be excited. So it was our first fight ever in Saudi Arabia, and a couple of fights that we wanted to line up, they weren’t ready to go.”
“So, we pushed the card back because we’re going to deliver. But never once was one fight proposed to Saudi Arabia, and they were like, ‘Yeah, no. This isn’t good enough” (h/t MMA Junkie).”
Contrary to earlier reports, the originally scheduled March 2 card included notable matchups like a heavyweight clash between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Shamil Gaziev, along with the return of undefeated prospect Muhammad Mokaev against Alex Perez. While opinions on the card varied, it becomes evident that the UFC is determined to ensure that every event lives up to its high standards.