The UFC has agreed a five-year partnership with Abu Dhabi that will see the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion return to the UAE in September for the first time since 2014.

The deal was announced on Monday by UFC, which is keen to capitalise on its huge following in the Middle East.

The organisation has already opened a number of its flaghip UFC Gyms in the region, while Muslim fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov is particularly well supported – it seems likely he will feature on the card after suggesting last month he’d like to return to the ring in Abu Dhabi.

The September 7 event, UFC 242, will be the organisation’s first on UAE soil for five years and marks the start of a new five-year deal between UFC and  the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

“We are making a long-term commitment to Abu Dhabi because we have had great success in that market,” UFC president Dana White said. “The demand from our fans to bring UFC back to Abu Dhabi has been overwhelming, and over the next five years, DCT Abu Dhabi will help us deliver some spectacular UFC championship fights to the UAE.

“I’m very excited about this partnership and what it will mean for the growth of this sport and for UFC in the region.”

The last UFC event in the UAE took place at Abu Dhabi’s du Arena in 2014.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, added: “Abu Dhabi is now firmly established as a unique tourism destination which offers a diverse mix of activities and initiatives that cater to all kinds of audience and visitors,”

“The emirate also has a strong affiliation with world-class sporting events, such as the FIFA Club World Cup, the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Red Bull Air Race, and now this deal to bring UFC here allows us to once again show our ability to stage major events that thrill visitors and residents alike.

“UFC will become a key component of Abu Dhabi’s thriving events calendar for the next five years, which is already packed full of not only great sporting events, but also cultural, arts and entertainment offerings as well.

“This spectacular mixed martial arts event, which has a huge following around the world, will bring heightened impetus to visitation in the third quarter for the emirate and will no doubt boost incoming tourist numbers as fight fans across the world gather in Abu Dhabi.”