Scotland’s Paul Craig is preparing for his newest UFC bout, but not as he would generally know it.
UFC 251 is being kept in quarantine on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
The location has actually been transformed into a closed-off battle zone and has actually been staging UFC occasions given that 11 July, making up a safety zone consisting of an arena, hotel, training facilities and a dining establishment which is only open up to fighters, coaches, UFC staff and other event personnel.
Craig got here in Abu Dhabi at the weekend and tells BBC Scotland what it has actually been like as he prepares for Friday’s contest on ‘Battle Island’.
Hazmat fits & early morning tests
In order for Yas Island to be Covid-19 free, there is routine screening. Craig was evaluated prior to leaving the UK, and had to stay in seclusion in London for two nights to await his result.
He was then checked again on arrival, and was woken at the first light on Sunday for yet another assessment.
” What they’re looking for is for this location to be in lockdown,” he informed BBC Scotland’s Sportsound programme.
” Everyone’s in hazmat matches, and they’re checking us very frequently.
” They’ve shut the whole of Yas Island down and built this complex with a purpose-built octagon where the fights will happen, and they’ve got the full hotel [booked].
” It was the same with the flight – we were in an Etihad airline company that was all booked out for the UFC fighters taking a trip from Europe. I have actually never ever taken a trip organisation class, so that was an experience as a young boy from Airdrie.”
‘ All I can hear is banging’
After arriving, Craig and the other fighters have to self-isolate in their hotel space for 2 days. But they are still able to do some type of training in their room, they do have a fight coming up after all.
” UFC are great, they kitted the space out with mats,” Craig explains. “So we’ve got an excellent spaced area to do jujitsu and run over gameplans and get the sweat up. When you’re taking in a great deal of calories you require to burn them off.”
There is one problem, though. With fighters practising in their spaces, it’s not precisely a serene place to be.
” We have actually got Brad Picket, UFC bantamweight, above us and all you can hear is: ‘Bang, bang, bang,'” Craig jokes.
Yas Island is not some speck of land in the middle of the sea however is a five-star resort connected to Abu Dhabi by roadway.
It has actually hosted Solution 1’s Abu Grand Prix considering that 2009 and has staged music shows. It likewise has numerous amusement park – consisting of Ferrari World, which boasts the world’s fastest rollercoaster – plus a shopping center, a golf course, a marina and a beach. Craig’s seclusion in his space a minimum of features a view.
” I have actually got a terrace, and as I keep an eye out there’s all these fancy yachts parked in this harbour. I’ve got the Richard Mille racing track throughout from me. Once I get out of quarantine I’ll be able to go and utilize these centers, but as it stands I can look but I can’t touch.”
Craig, who has a record of 12 -4 -1, fights Russia’s Gadzhimurad Antigulov on Saturday, with both ranked outside the top 15 in the light heavyweight division.
At 32, Craig recognises his time is running out, however he is determined to leave a mark on the sport.
” I’m still looking to attempt and enter into that top 10 and be identified and show my skills,” he says.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
” That’s the only way you’re going to get the title. Conor McGregor rose to fame so rapidly within this sport since he was seen combating high-level people and he did it really extremely rapidly. I’m aiming to do that.”
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe