The UFC returns to the Middle East later this month for what has become the annual event in Abu Dhabi. Fans in the region won’t have to wait too long for the promotion to put on another live show.

Overnight it was confirmed that the UFC was heading to Saudi Arabia next year with a fight card confirmed for March 2nd. It will be part of the 2023 Riyadh Season which has also featured WWE event in the past.

Stellar card

While UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi will be a pay per view event this doesn’t seem to be the case for the event in Riyadh. But the press release promises a stellar fight card,

The much-anticipated event will showcase a stellar lineup of UFC’s most accomplished and globally recognized fighters.

The 2023 Riyadh Season gets underway this month. On October 28th is a fight which the UFC definitely won’t be sending any press releases about as former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou faces Tyson Fury in his boxing debut.

Major investment

Through its sovereign wealth fund Saudi Arabia recently invested in the Professional Fighter’s League. It is part of an aggressive expansion into the world of sport which has seen the wealthy state take a major stake in the PGA Tour.

Saudi Arabia also looks set to be handed the 2034 World Cup with FIFA set to hand the prestigious multi billion dollar tournament to the country without allowing any rivals to bid. The country’s Public Investment Fund also purchased an 80% stake in Newcastle United a couple of year’s ago.

The fight with Ngannou will be one of back to back matches in Saudi Arabia for Tyson Fury. The heavyweight champion already has a match booked with Oleksandr Usyk which will take place in Riyadh either in December or January.

The WWE, which recently merged with the UFC, has been promoting events in Saudi Arabia since 2014. The most recent took place in May and another is booked for November.

Saudi Arabia has already established itself as a major player in the world’s of football, golf and boxing. MMA appears to be the next sport in the oil rich nation’s sights and UFC cards in Riyadh could become a regular fixture on the sporting calendar.