Fans attending UFC 257: POIRIER vs. McGREGOR have been urged to “let it out” and “make some noise” by fighters taking to the Etihad Arena Octagon on Sunday morning.
The ‘biggest UFC event of the year’ will see fan favourite Conor McGregor take on Dustin Poirier in the headline lightweight clash; a rematch of their 2014 clash, which McGregor won.
That fight brings the curtain down on the epic UFC Fight Island Triple Header series in Abu Dhabi, which marked the return of fans to live events in Abu Dhabi, and UFC events anywhere, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With huge interest to attend the event and only limited seats available inside the 18,000-seat Etihad Arena due to Covid-19 health and safety protocols, tickets sold out within hours.
And those lucky enough to have secured a seat for Sunday’s showdown have been urged to make up for lost time.
“I’m very excited to fight in front of fans again. It might only be 2,000+ fans, but I hope they get it into it, I want to hear them, I want them to make some noise. You don’t miss something until it’s gone and man, I’ve missed those fans,” said New Zealand’s Dan Hooker who takes on UFC debutant Michael Chandler in the co-main event.
“Scream, whatever you’re feeling. You’ve paid your money, you’ve paid to say whatever you want. Whether you hate me, whether you love me, just let’s hear it, let’s it out.”
With retired lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov having told the main event and co-main event stars to show him something special to force him out of retirement, Hooker, who fought two of the best fights of 2020 against Paul Felder and Poirier, is keen to put on a show.
“I feel the performance on Sunday will dictate what happens next, the champion himself has said to main event and co-main event ‘if you put on an impressive performance you might be in with an opportunity’. I feel like it is there. I know there is going to be a big prize,” added Hooker.
“I’ve matured a lot as a fighter. I spent an hour inside the UFC Octagon last year in the fights against Dustin Poirier and Paul Felder. Not many fighters spend an hour inside the UFC cage in their career never mind in a year.”
“The lessons I’ve learned from those two fights are going to be fresh in my mind come Sunday and I’m going to be very composed. Doesn’t mean I’m going to be any less exciting.”
Meanwhile, Joanne Calderwood is back on Yas Island for the first time since her impressive victory over Andrea Lee at UFC 242 in September 2019. And she is hoping to feed off the crowd once again when she faces Jessica Eye in the third last event on Sunday’s card.
“It’s good to be back in Abu Dhabi it’s a bit cooler than last time. I remember the fight well with Andrea, I remember a lot of volume of strikes and it was very hot. I enjoyed the night, and the crowd was awesome ,” said Calderwood.
“I’m so excited to have fans back. It might not be everyone but it’s baby steps, it’s a good way, the right way of doing things and a sign that we are getting back to normal.
“I’m coming in hungry. I’m coming in with a lot of volume. So, I know you guys are loud. I want to hear it. I hope to put on a good show for you and hearing some accents.”